Steyer to announce political plans in Iowa on Wednesday

Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer is set to make an announcement about his political future on Wednesday amid speculation that he could enter the 2020 race for the White House.

Steyer is expected to be in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday to roll out part of his much-touted list of “5 rights” — a platform seen by some political observers as a precursor to a presidential campaign platform.


Steyer has unveiled other parts of that platform — which includes principles such as the right to an equal vote and the right to clean air and water — at events in key primary states like South Carolina and California.

Iowa is among the most crucial stops for would-be presidential contenders because of its first-in-the-nation caucuses.

While the former hedge fund manager has for years played a role as a prolific donor to liberal causes, he has publicly toyed with the idea of a run for office. Last year, after some speculation, he announced that he would not mount a bid for California governor.

Steyer’s announcement will come more than a week after Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Overnight Health Care: CDC panel meets on vaccines and heart inflammation | Health officials emphasize vaccine is safe | Judge rules Missouri doesn't have to implement Medicaid expansion Democrats urge Biden to extend moratorium on student loan payments MORE (D-Mass.) entered the 2020 Democratic nominating contest, filing paperwork to form a presidential exploratory committee. She made her first visit of the year to Iowa over the weekend.

It’s unclear if Steyer will announce a firm decision on a White House run on Wednesday. A person familiar with the billionaire philanthropist's thinking said that, if Steyer does enter the presidential field, he already has a team of staffers and operatives at the ready through his existing network of nonprofits and political action committees.

Also unclear is whether Steyer’s wealth — he’s worth an estimated $1.6 billion, according to Forbes — could work against him in a Democratic primary field, in which candidates have taken an increasingly hard line on big money in politics.

Another billionaire, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is also said to be considering a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. A spokesperson for Bloomberg told CNBC last month that he is willing to spend more than $100 million of his own fortune if he mounts a White House run.

--Updated on Jan. 9 at 9:30 a.m.