Steyer won't run against Trump in 2020

Tom Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist known for his campaign to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE, ruled out a bid for the White House on Wednesday, putting to rest months of speculation that he could seek the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Steyer announced his decision, which had been confirmed beforehand to The Hill by one of his advisers, during a trip to Iowa on Wednesday. The New York Times, which obtained a copy of his prepared remarks, first reported the news. 

“Most people come to Iowa around this time to announce a campaign for president,” Steyer said in the prepared remarks, according to the Times. “But I am proud to be here to announce that I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to remove a president.”

In a tweet, Steyer said he would instead dedicate “100% of my time and effort in 2019 towards Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.”

He said that he’s committing $40 million to his impeachment effort this year.

But the liberal billionaire also left the door open to the possibility that he could change his mind, saying that he would not launch a presidential bid “at this time.”

Even with his decision not to mount a White House run on Wednesday, Steyer is still set to travel to New Hampshire and Nevada in the coming weeks as part of a tour to roll out his “5 Rights” platform.

Steyer’s announcement winnowed down the field of potential contenders for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination — a field that is already shaping up to be one of the most crowded in the party’s history.

Steyer has flirted with the idea of running for public office before. His decision to forego a White House bid comes almost exactly a year after announcing that he would pass on running for governor of California.

While few candidates have announced formal campaigns, several Democrats are expected to do so in the coming weeks and months, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden: 'We've learned in the last two years, it doesn't take much to awaken hate' 2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Sanders knocks Trump in MLK Day speech Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE (I-Vt.).

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president Kamala Harris announces presidential campaign MORE (D-Mass.) became the first major contender to jump into the race last week, a move that party strategists and operatives said put pressure on other Democrats to decide quickly on whether they will mount White House bids of their own.

Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who mounted a brief campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2016, said last week that he would not run in 2020, opting instead to throw his support behind former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who is said to be mulling a bid.

Steyer’s decision to forego a White House run takes out a potential candidate who would have been among the best financed. The former hedge fund manager is worth an estimated $1.6 billion and has shown a willingness — if not an enthusiasm — to spend millions of dollars on politics.

In the 2018 election cycle alone, Steyer dropped more than $120 million on political causes, with the majority going to two groups: Need to Impeach, his campaign to remove Trump from office, and NextGen Rising, a youth voter turnout initiative.

But some Democrats suggested that Steyer’s wealth could be a political liability as much as an advantage, pointing to a growing movement in the party away from big money donors and an increasing focus on rallying support from small-dollar, online donors.

In an interview on MSNBC last week, Warren urged Democrats to divest from corporate PAC contributions and high-dollar donations, and focus instead on grass-roots fundraising. Billionaire candidates, she said, should refrain from self-funding potential campaigns.