Tom Steyer won’t run to replace retiring Barbara Boxer – Washington Times
San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer announced Thursday that he will not run for the California Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, saying that he wants to focus his efforts on electing a Democratic president in 2016.
“My decision about whether to engage from the outside or seek elected office came down to a single question: How best can I fight for a level playing field at this point?” Mr. Steyer said in an op-ed in the Huffington Post.
“Given the imperative of electing a Democratic president — along with my passion for our state — I believe my work right now should not be in our nation’s capitol but here at home in California, and in states around the country where we can make a difference,” Mr. Steyer said.
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Mr. Steyer, 57, was viewed as a leading candidate in the battle to succeed Mrs. Boxer, given his high profile in the climate change movement and ability to fund his own campaign in a race that is expected to shatter spending records.
“This was a very hard decision. The U.S. Senate offers a unique opportunity to serve, but I also know that we will have excellent candidates,” Mr. Steyer said. “I applaud and respect those running, and am confident that Californians will choose a representative who will serve them well.”
His departure comes as a boost to other Democratic contenders, starting with Attorney General Kamala Harris, who has announced she will seek the seat, as well as potential candidates such as former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Reps. Xavier Becerra and Loretta Sanchez.
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On the GOP side, former California Republican Party chair Tom Del Beccaro has announced he is weighing a bid for the Senate seat in the heavily Democratic state.
The race is the first Senate contest without an incumbent under California’s four-year-old top-two primary system, in which the two top vote-getters in a single, all-party primary face each other in the general election regardless of political party.
Mr. Steyer, who would have presumably held a significant spending advantage in a race that is expected to hit $100 million, jumped into politics last year through his organization NextGen Climate, which focuses on promoting climate change as a campaign issue.
He sunk an estimated $74 million into defeating Republicans and electing Democrats in seven Senate and gubernatorial races in 2014, but only three of his hand-picked candidates wound up winning their races.
Mr. Steyer, a former hedge fund manager who founded Farallon Capital Management, became something of an issue himself during the campaign, often described as the liberal version of the conservative Koch brothers.
Mrs. Boxer, 74, announced earlier this month that she will not run for re-election at the end of her fourth term in 2016.