Tom Steyer Drops Climate Focus, 'Crowdsources the Resistance' Instead

Tom Steyer
Tom Steyer / AP
February 1, 2017

Billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer is dropping his laser focus on climate policy, expanding the mission of his personal Super PAC beyond the issue that has animated his political advocacy for years.

BuzzFeed News reports that Steyer's NextGen Climate Action is instead asking its supporters to weigh in on which issues the group should prioritize in its deep-pocketed election spending.

Steyer posted a video on his Facebook page on Tuesday asking liberals to share their ideas for how he should spend his millions opposing President Donald Trump. A Steyer aide calls it "crowdsourcing the resistance."

"The point of that video is to say look, we should be listening," Steyer told BuzzFeed. "This isn't just a talk-down speaking exercise. This is a bottom-up listening exercise."

The political groups he funds–NextGen Climate, an offshoot called NextGen California, and union-backed Super PAC For Our Future–had a poor track record in 2016, continuing a Steyer losing streak that began in the 2014 midterm elections.

Since Trump's election, Steyer has turned his focus to the new president's Cabinet appointments, running ads opposing Trump's picks to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department.

Steyer is also considered a potential candidate for California governor next year. His NextGen California group ran anti-Trump ads in the state last year that were widely seen as efforts to introduce him to the state's electorate.

According to Steyer, the problem with climate-centric political advocacy is not that voters don't consider it a policy priority, but that Democrats have not adequately made an economic case for environmentalism.

"We've always felt that to separate climate–and to not put it in the context of American jobs, American wages, and American health–was a mistake," he told BuzzFeed.

On Tuesday, NextGen filed its year-end financial disclosure statement with the Federal Election Commission. It showed that the group spent about $95 million in the 2016 election cycle.

Steyer personally donated $86 million to its 2016 war chest. He says there is "no limit" to what he will spend opposing Trump going forward–just as soon as he decides what issues he will care about.