(CBS SF / CNN) — Bay Area Billionaire Tom Steyer has told staffers he plans to announce a 2020 presidential bid, a turnaround from January when he said he would not enter the race.
Steyer, who has teased political bids before without ever launching a campaign, never fully ruled out a 2020 run despite his January announcement, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The source said Steyer began planning an announcement in June and told staffers from from the two organizations he funds, Need to Impeach and Next Gen, that he plans to launch a 2020 bid.
A spokesperson for Steyer did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the billionaire’s plans, which were first reported by The Atlantic.
Steyer has operated as a funding force in Democratic politics in recent years, bankrolling candidates and organizations that promote liberal causes, including the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Steyer’s net worth reached $1.6 billion this year according Forbes, a fortune he began amassing in 1986 when he launched his hedge fund Farallon Capital.
The 2018 House races marked the third consecutive election cycle in which Steyer spent tens of millions of dollars supporting Democratic candidates. But it’s Steyer’s efforts to impeach Trump which have made him the most visible — starring in self-funded television commercials where he calls on Congress to remove the President from office.
Steyer initially cited his efforts to impeach Trump in January as the reason he would not launch a presidential bid of his own.
“Now the impeachment question has reached an inflection point,” he said. “Therefore, I will be dedicating 100% of my time, effort and resources to one cause, working for Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.”
He added: “I am not running for president at this time. Instead, I am strengthening my commitment to Need to Impeach in 2019 until the House starts impeachment proceedings or Mr. Trump resigns.”
If Steyer enters the race, he would join a crowded Democratic primary that has already participated in the first round of primary debates. He would also be the third person from the Bay Area to join the race, along with Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Eric Swalwell.
A CNN poll last month showed former Vice President Joe Biden leading the race with 22% support followed by Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who made steep gains following their debate performances.
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