Tom Steyer, billionaire pushing to impeach Trump, changes mind and decides to run for president

Anti-Trump Billionaire Tom Steyer hosts a town hall meeting on December 4, 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina. Steyer, founder of NextGen America and Need to Impeach, is testing the waters for a 2020 presidential run.

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer said Tuesday that he will run for president in 2020, entering the crowded Democratic field late in the race with a pledge to focus on climate change and reforming the political system.

In a video, the Democratic megadonor, who has funneled millions of dollars into pushing for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, reversed his decision announced earlier this year not to run.  

“If we can reduce the influence of corporate money in our democracy, and start to address the devastating impacts of climate change, we can unlock the full potential of the American people and finally solve the many challenges facing our country,” Steyer said in a statement accompanying the video. 

“The other Democratic candidates for President have many great ideas that will absolutely move our country forward, but we won’t be able to get any of those done until we end the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy,” he said. 

Steyer is one of the most prolific donors to Democratic campaigns. Along with his wife Kathryn, Steyer is ranked second in all-time lifetime political donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The two ranked third in the 2018 midterms, according to the group. 

As part of his presidential bid, Steyer said he was resigning his leadership positions at NextGen America, an progressive advocacy group that mobilizes young voters, and Need to Impeach.

Steyer’s entrance into the race is likely to shake up the primary field, in no small part because of the vast sums of money at his disposal. The former hedge fund manager has pledged to spend at least $100 million on his presidential campaign, Alberto Lammers told CNBC. 

Heather Hargreaves, a longtime Steyer advisor who led Next Gen America, will serve as campaign manager, Lammers said. Lammers added that the campaign is in the process of building out a staff. In the coming weeks, Steyer will travel to campaign kickoff events in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Ohio and California, he said. 

The GOP wasted no time in attacking the newest entrant in the race to take on Trump. 

“The only thing Steyer’s campaign will do is light more of his money on fire as he joins the rest of the 2020 Democrat field in pushing policies that are way outside the mainstream,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest. 

Trump has called Steyer “a crazed & stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon. “

— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report. 

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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