Former hedgie Steyer eyes Senate run in California

Tom Steyer
Jahi Chikwendiu | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager who became a major environmental activist and poltical booster, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate, according to multiple reports.

Steyer would run for the seat in California vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer, who announced this week she would not seek re-election in 2016. Others who could run include California Democrats Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor; Kamala Harris, the attorney general, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

"My sense is that he will take a look at it and consider it over the next few days or so," a person close to Steyer told at least three separate media outlets.

A spokesman for Steyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Steyer praised Boxer on Thursday.

"Boxer has been a warrior for progressive causes—protecting our climate, championing the rights of women and children, and defending the core Democratic values of civil rights and economic equality for millions of Americans," he said in a statement. "We Californians have been very, very fortunate to have her representing us."

Steyer was a major force in the 2014 election cycle through his recently formed NextGen Climate group, which attacked or supported political candidates based on their climate change position.

Steyer, 57, made his fortune as the founder of Farallon Capital Management, which started in 1986 and grew to be a major hedge fund firm. But, nagged by the threat of global warming, he decided to retire in October 2012.

"Given that I believe climate is the defining issue of our generation, I could not in good conscience continue to be in a business that, by definition, has to consider investments in virtually every sector of the global economy and does have investments in a full set of fossil fuel-related industries," Steyer said in an interview with in December 2013. "We all have to be part of the solution."

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Steyer appears to be the biggest political campaign spender in the past election cycle, based on publicly disclosed donations compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Top midterm donors to outside groups

% to
% to
1 Thomas Steyer $73,725,000 0% 100%
2 Michael Bloomberg $20,011,894 2% 98%
3 Paul Singer $9,333,537 100% 0%
4 Robert Mercer $8,070,000 100% 0%
5 Fred Eychaner $7,900,000 3% 97%
6 Joe Ricketts $6,595,000 100% 0%
7 Sheldon & Miriam Adelson $5,000,000 100% 0%
8 Richard Uihlein $4,235,000 100% 0%
9 George Soros $3,560,000 0% 100%
10 Robert Perry $3,100,000 100% 0%
Source: Center for Responsive Politics