Sanders 'Not a Big Fan' of Steyer Entering 2020 Race

The senator is 'tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power'

July 9, 2019

Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) criticized his newest challenger for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, during a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC.

"I'm not a big fan of billionaires getting involved in the political process," Sanders told MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell during a brief television interview when asked about Steyer's Tuesday morning announcement declaring his presidential candidacy.

Sanders said he personally considered Steyer a friend and "a good guy," but added he is "tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power."

The self-described democratic socialist senator continued, "billionaires should not be able to spend unlimited sums of money trying to buy elections."

A spokesman for Steyer, who amassed his wealth by managing the world's fourth-largest hedge fund, said Steyer plans to spend $100 million on his presidential campaign.

Steyer has donated to progressive causes and candidates over the past decade, recently producing a series of digital and television advertisements calling for President Donald Trump to be impeached. Steyer spent tens of millions of dollars on the advertisements, which at times have criticized congressional Democrats for failing to impeach Trump, and has grown his "Need to Impeach" email list to over eight million signatures. Steyer spent $120 million in the 2018 midterm elections supporting Democratic candidates and causes.

Just months ago, Sanders praised Steyer for promising to ensure "a fair and unbiased primary election," through his position on the Board of Directors of the Center for American Progress. The liberal advocacy organization had come under fire at the time from progressive activists and the Sanders campaign after the organization shared a video showing Sanders changing his campaign speeches to omit the mention of "millionaires" after Sanders became a millionaire himself through the sales of his 2016 book, "Our Revolution."

Shortly after Sanders's praise, Steyer told Business Insider that he admired Sanders's 2020 campaign describing him as "either the frontrunner or almost the frontrunner."

Steyer had hinted his openness to supporting Sanders during the 2016 presidential primary campaign but ultimately ended up raising money for and supporting eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.