Liberal billionaire donor George Soros may not back a candidate during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary

  • Liberal Democratic megadonor George Soros could be on the verge of sitting out the 2020 presidential primary as the field continues to grow with progressive candidates.
  • "He doesn't plan to pick a horse in this race," Michael Vachon, Soros' chief spokesman, told CNBC.
  • Soros spent a record $17 million backing Democratic causes during the 2018 midterm election cycle, which saw Democrats seize the majority in the House.
George Soros
Joshua Roberts | Bloomberg | Getty Images
George Soros

Billionaire and liberal philanthropist George Soros has been telling his aides that he may not back a candidate during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary as the potentially large field sorts itself out.

"He doesn't plan to pick a horse in this race," Michael Vachon, Soros' chief spokesman, told CNBC in an email after being asked where his boss stands on the growing list of possible Democratic candidates for president.

Vachon explained that the Democrats who will be in the running for the nomination will likely not see a commitment from Soros because "he thinks there are several good candidates." Vachon did not name the candidates Soros praised.

Holding off on backing a candidate during the primary would mark a change in tactics for Soros. In the buildup to the 2016 general election, Soros supported Hillary Clinton over liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. His backing included a $343,000 contribution to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee supporting Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Soros, often a target of right-wing pundits and politicians, supported Barack Obama in the early stages of what would become the 2008 campaign, cutting checks for the eventual president's campaign in the first couple months of 2007.

The field of possible Democratic 2020 candidates continues to grow. Sanders is expected to run again, while Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, Rep. Beto O'Rourke and billionaire Tom Steyer are considering launching campaigns.

Soros is also coming off a victorious midterm election cycle during which he spent a record $17 million backing Democratic causes, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. To compare, during the 2014 midterm elections, Soros put up only $3 million. Soros and other billionaires, such as former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Steyer, helped Democrats gain 40 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Soros donated $5 million to Priorities USA Action, a top Democratic super PAC. His other large donations went to other influential committees, including Win Justice and the Senate Majority PAC.