Hedge fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer says he won’t run for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat in 2016. That could make things a little easier for state Attorney General Kamala Harris, the one Democrat so far to commit to the race.
Steyer – a Bay Area businessman and climate change activist – says he seriously considered making a run for the Senate. But Steyer says he believes he can do more as a private citizen to promote environmental, education and economic issues.
Steyer was considered to be a potentially formidable challenger to Harris. The 57-year-old has no political experience and limited name recognition. But he has a huge bank account, and he’s been more than willing to spend money on political causes. Last year, Steyer gave more than $70-million to candidates who campaigned to fight global warming.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that he won’t run for Boxer’s seat.With Steyer bowing out, attention shifts to former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as a possible challenger to Harris. Villaraigosa has been reaching out to Democratic Party officials and fundraisers about a possible bid. But he still hasn’t made a formal announcement. Meanwhile, San Fernando Valley Congressman Adam Schiff said yesterday that he might enter the race.
Possible Republican candidates include Neel Kashari – who lost to Jerry Brown in last year’s governor’s race, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. There’s also a push among some in the state GOP to enlist the deep pocketed Charles Munger Jr., a Stanford physicist and conservative activist.