Election 2020
Portrait of Tom Steyer
Portrait of Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer

Democratic candidate

The billionaire activist began a long-shot run for the White House in July after deciding against a presidential bid earlier this year. In 201, Steyer, 62, started Nextgen America, a PAC that has contributed $230 million to Democrats in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 campaign cycles. With a net worth estimated at $1.6 billion built from decades running the hedge fund Farallon Capital, Steyer has drawn criticism for spending his money on his unlikely campaign instead of on grassroots organizations or his prior focus, impeaching President Trump. But he says he saw a need for a 2020 contender to speak more urgently about climate change and about Trump’s behavior. “I don’t see the Democratic establishment doing anything real to stop him,” he said of the president in August.

Steyer has struggled to find footing in the race, though he’s in the top three in recent South Carolina polling. He got no delegates out of Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada.

In depth

Tom Steyer says 2020 race needs him for urgent action on climate change: The reason behind a change of heart that surprised many.

Dino Grandoni | Aug. 15, 2019 | 5 minutes


Steyer released an aggressive plan to address climate change. He says his proposal is “justice-centered” and calls for a “Civilian Climate Corps” to create jobs and provide resources to help communities adapt to a clean energy economy. He set a deadline of 2045 to achieve net-zero global warming pollution and a 100 percent clean energy economy, five years earlier than many other candidates in the 2020 race. Steyer says he would use the emergency powers of the presidency to protect the country from climate change.

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Economic inequality

Steyer, a billionaire, advocates for a wealth tax and has said he wants to “undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and major corporations.” He supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage and an increased earned income tax credit. Steyer says monopolies need to be broken up or regulated, saying on his website that “unchecked capitalism undermines our democracy and hurts too many people.”

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Steyer says he would increase teacher pay and improve school facilities. He also expressed support for universal pre-K. “Every American should have the right to a free, quality, public education from universal pre-kindergarten through higher education, including workforce and technical training,” his campaign website says.

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Foreign policy

Steyer would work with global allies to address climate change and continue trade agreements “with everyone at the table,” according to his campaign website. He has condemned President Trump for having an “America first” foreign policy strategy. “What we really should be doing is addressing these things with our traditional allies in a multilateral way,” he told CBS News in July. “We cannot draw a wall around the United States.”

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The billionaire has made structural reform a central tenet of his campaign. He proposes establishing congressional term limits of 12 years and reforming the Federal Election Commission. He also has advocated against the electoral college, instead proposing a national popular vote. He wants to roll out a “Vote at Home” system that would provide postage-paid absentee ballots.

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Health care

Steyer has endorsed a public option and says he wants to bolster the government-run program so it eventually would force private insurance companies out of business. “I’m not in favor of saying to 150 million Americans who get their health care through their employer, ‘That’s now illegal. You will have to do it our way’,” he told WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, in August. He has also been outspoken against the pharmaceutical industry, criticizing companies for profiting from drug sales.

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Steyer has donated heavily to efforts that give legal support to immigrants facing deportation. He says he would reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and increase aid to Central America.

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Who agrees with you?

Answer some of the policy questions that the candidates did and see which candidates your answers align with.

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