The Washington Post

Tom Steyer suggests $100 million might not be enough in 2014

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer plans to spend big money making an impact in the 2014 midterm elections. Like $100 million big, according to a report. But in an interview Tuesday, Steyer suggested that elevating the most crucial climate and environmental issues of the day in the eyes of the public might require even more money.

"If you said to me, how much would I be willing to spend, to make this what I believe it is, the most important issue in the minds of Americans, then I would think 100 million bucks would be very low, honestly," he said in an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" that will air Sunday.

Tom Steyer poses for a portrait on Saturday, January 26, 2012, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The New York Times reported in February that Steyer plans to spend as much as $100 million on 2014 races, split evenly between a $50 million personal donation and $50 million in contributions from major donors. When pressed on a specific dollar figure Tuesday, Steyer refused to commit to one.

"Trying to say what you're going to spend or how it's going to play out is pretty unrealistic," he said.

Steyer's not yet telegraphing the list of races in which he plans to get involved. He said he anticipated getting involved in "eight or more" contests including the Florida governor's race and the Iowa Senate contest. Steyer anticipated firming up his plans around June, once the candidate fields come into clearer view across the country.

Elections that feature a "significant difference" between the candidates on energy and climate issues, "something important" at stake and the potential to make a "longer term impact" are the ones in which Steyer plans to spend, he said.

How will he judge the success (or failure) of his spending? It's all about the W's.

"You've got to realize how deeply superficial I am," Steyer said. "I spent my life up to 22 playing a lot of sports so I really care about wins. I don't think there's any way you look at elections and don't look at it in terms of wins and losses. We really like W's."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.