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#QuickTake: Top Dem Donor Shifting Focus, From Climate to…

Donald Trump. In a new interview with BuzzFeed News, Steyer announces a shift in focus and a commitment to spend (even more) money on progressive candidates.

Tom Steyer

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ top donor in 2014 and 2016, has announced he is shifting his focus from climate change to a broader assault on President Donald Trump.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Steyer laid out his focus for 2017 and 2018, his expected financial commitments, and what Donald Trump’s election changed for him. Here are NTK’s key takeaways:

#1: DILUTED STEYER?

Steyer indicated he is moving beyond just climate change, the focus that made him a big name in Washington:

The billionaire will expand the focus of his environmental political advocacy group, NextGen Climate Action, to fund initiatives and candidates with an eye to issues well beyond the realm of climate change, Steyer said in an interview on Tuesday.

Steyer tried this in 2016 by partnering with the AFL-CIO over liberal causes. The partnership caused a rift among labor unions, some of which support energy projects that Steyer and other environmentalists oppose. Steyer didn’t specify what causes he’ll pursue in the Trump era, but he’ll have to navigate some tensions in the Democratic Party.

#2: 100% RESISTANCE

Steyer is firmly in the obstructionist camp, claiming anything less than full opposition to Trump is losing:

The move comes amid a larger debate among Democrats over whether to pick battles strategically under Trump, or to “oppose everything” he puts forward — a posture advocated by much of the party’s base. Steyer suggested that he falls in the latter category. “The way that Trump wins is not because we’re going to agree with him — we’re not,” he said. “It’s when we acquiesce to him. That’s how we lose.”

This clashes with his position on Merrick Garland from 2016, when he told Senate Republicans to “do [your] job”:

#3: BIG MONEY (CON.)

Steyer pledged to spend millions, like he did in 2014 and 2016:

Speaking by phone from California, Steyer outlined possible changes that could make NextGen a group with diverse aims: organizing a network of nationwide activists, registering voters, forming alliances with other liberal groups — while still investing millions in progressive candidates, as Steyer did in 2014 and 2016.

Even BuzzFeed notes that Steyer’s money — $163 million in the 2014 and 2016 cycles — produced mixed results for Steyer, at best.

#4: STEYER 2018?

“Steyer is still considering a bid to replace Jerry Brown as governor in 2018,” BuzzFeed reports. Steyer has long been rumored a candidate for governor of California, but the latest poll had him running well behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), 25-4. Steyer’s four percent was good enough for sixth place out of eight.