Billionaire Tom Steyer may enter the 2020 field as Rep. Eric Swalwell bows out

Word of a possible Steyer candidacy was a surprise to the Democratic political world, which has counted on the 62-year-old’s largess to finance super PACs in recent years and has grown used to his plotting and then discarding his own ambitions for elected office.

Billionaire Tom Steyer may enter the 2020 field as Rep. Eric Swalwell bows out

Word of a possible Steyer candidacy was a surprise to the Democratic political world, which has counted on the 62-year-old’s largess to finance super PACs in recent years and has grown used to his plotting and then discarding his own ambitions for elected office.

The news that Steyer is again entertaining entering the race himself came as a fellow northern Californian, Rep. Eric Swalwell, said that he was ending his bid for the Democratic nomination for president. Swalwell, 38, made the announcement Monday at his campaign headquarters in Dublin, California.

He confirmed he would seek reelection to the House, representing Northern California’s East Bay.

In recent weeks, Steyer instructed advisers to conduct polling and other research to gauge his prospects, people briefed on his preparations said. He hasn’t announced a political calendar, but Netroots Nation, the annual conference for the party’s left wing, said he would appear at its opening keynote address Thursday in Philadelphia.

There is considerable skepticism across the Democratic Party about Steyer’s seriousness about the presidential race, and his associates warn not to count him as a candidate until his filing papers are signed and submitted.

Since breaking onto the political scene by backing several high-profile statewide initiatives in California in 2010, Steyer has engaged in a series of heavily funded, attention-grabbing crusades, most recently spending tens of millions of dollars to promote a campaign demanding President Donald Trump’s impeachment. That effort has flagged, frustrating Steyer, according to people familiar with his thoughts.

Should he run, Steyer would likely face a far more searching examination of his record than he has to date, including his background as a hedge fund manager who invested heavily in fossil fuels. Several populist candidates have consistently signaled that they would respond aggressively to any billionaire who entered the race and sought to finance a candidacy with a personal fortune.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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