Billionaire Tom Steyer eyes climate change, education in potential Senate bid

Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, shown in Washington in November.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who is weighing a run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Barbara Boxer in two years, is outlining a policy agenda focused on climate change, education and tax reform and pledging to serve only one term if he cannot achieve his goals, sources close to Steyer said Sunday.

Steyer is detailing his potential platform in discussions with supporters as he mulls whether to mount a bid, said the sources, who requested anonymity to talk about Steyer’s decision process. He is expected to announce his intentions within days.

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who is advising Steyer, said the climate-change activist is committed “to being held specifically accountable to voters when it comes to environmental justice, economic justice and education justice.”


Steyer’s agenda, first reported by the Sacramento Bee, would include three goals: reducing greenhouse gas production, overhauling the tax system so the wealthy pay more and expanding public education.

With Republicans controlling both Houses, achieving such objectives would be practically impossible.

Democrats will have a chance to retake the Senate in 2016 but are not expected to regain the House of Representatives, so attempts to get such legislation on the next president’s desk would remain difficult.

Boxer’s announcement that she would not seek another term in 2016 set off a frenzy among California politicians who have not seen an open U.S. Senate seat in the state for more than two decades. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is the only major candidate to officially announce a bid for the seat.

Other Democrats considering a run include former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang, Rep. Loretta Sanchez and other members of Congress. Most analysts dismiss the prospect of a Republican winning the post.

Twitter: @LATSeema