David Avella: Tom Steyer is Biden’s biggest threat

President Trump’s impeachment organizer Tom Steyer has joined the race to become the Democratic presidential nominee with a pledge to spend $100 million of his own billion-dollar fortune. While it will not put him any closer to defeating Donald Trump, it does likely close the door on former Vice President Joe Biden winning the nomination.

Steyer’s notoriety comes from donating the billions he has made investing in fossil fuels, private prisons and subprime lending companies into progressive activism for impeaching President Trump and reckless environmental policies.


He will be pushing the same radical, job-killing climate change ideas that those defining the progressive agenda such as New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been screaming for. The difference is Steyer’s pledge to spend $100 million means he will be a loud voice that voters will hear and see.

Steyer’s spending doesn’t guarantee voters will get behind his candidacy, but it does mean Biden will have to fend off attacks on his pragmatism or risk losing ground to Harris, Warren or Sanders.

He also ensures the eventual Democratic nominee will have to put economic socialism and environmental recklessness at the forefront of his or her message.

To date, Biden’s weakening support has been as much a matter of his own missteps as specific attacks by other candidates. His opponents have already increased attention to his record on race, his age, and not being connected to today’s Democratic Party – not to mention his propensity for being overly touchy.

Still, the negative quotient has been diffuse, making it hard to distinguish noise from actual sound. All that changes when Steyer puts his money on the table. The sheer amount he spends on a given message will force the discussion in that direction.

This will happen very quickly.  Steyer is already on television with advertising totaling $1.5 million in the first four contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The impact of Steyer’s candidacy is one more nail in the coffin that will become the Biden for President campaign.

Also, while Biden is seemingly content to mechanically run his campaign as he has in his previous two bids for the presidency, Steyer will be relying on modern technology to get the job done. Two early states, Iowa and Nevada, are allowing votes to be cast for their caucuses using a mobile phone. It will hardly be a shocker when Steyer’s forces go to university campuses to engage and activate students on the spot to vote for their man.

These activists are determined to have their voices heard. And the Steyer candidacy will have the infrastructure to make it happen. The more progressive and single-issue environmental voters participate in early contests, the larger a turnout there will be for Steyer, Harris, Sanders and Warren.

The more Steyer talks about carbon-free sources of energy, the more Biden will be forced to admit to Pennsylvania coal miners that he is ready to sell them out.

The more ground Biden cedes to progressive, single-issue environmental causes, the harder it will be for him to, with any credibility, claim to be a champion for blue collar manufacturing workers.

Biden has now endorsed the Green New Deal but that does not mean he will receive a pass from the greener factions of the Democrat Party.

The self-funding Steyer also widens a vulnerability for Biden that is already being exploited by Warren – and that is his coziness with lobbyists and wealthy donors.

Just like Donald Trump in 2016, Steyer will be able to make the case that he doesn’t need special interest money because he is spending his own – and then point to Biden as part of the swamp.

The knock on Steyer is whether he’s the answer to the biggest question being asked by Democrats: “Who can beat President Trump?”


The GOP is ready to spend in the billions to win President Trump a second term.  Not even Steyer has the money it would need to overtake a well-funded incumbent party.

If Steyer actually comes through on his pledge to spend $100 million to push impeachment and progressive causes that Biden won’t support, then he is in the perfect position to spoil the race for Biden – and tip the race to Harris, Sanders or Warren.

Did someone say Steyer for Vice President?