Mega-Rich Activist Aims To Keep Trump From Winning California

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is committing time, money and effort to keep presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump from winning California’s Republican primary in June.

Steyer’s super PAC, NextGen Climate, said Friday it will wage a voter registration campaign to beat back the support Trump is gaining from California Republicans. The liberal climate justice warrior is worried the smattering of moderate Republicans willing to work with Steyer and his group might get defeated in November’s election.

Steyer cut a televised ad in the Golden State in which he implores citizens not to vote for the former reality TV star. “That’s not America. We’re all Californians. It’s time to speak out. Please register,” Steyer said in the ad. He added: “And vote.”

The deadline to register in California is Monday.

Steyer’s political pull is waning — though there is little indication that his money or influence ever really waxed. He has spent tens of millions of dollars on numerous political candidates and elections with little success.

NextGen Climate announced in April that it plans to use its considerable resources across hundreds of college campuses to get students and young voters out to vote for mostly renewable energy policies. The campaign will cost Steyer a cool $25 million to get off the ground.

“We are determined that they will be a difference maker,” Steyer, who amassed his much of his fortune while with Goldman Sachs in the 1980s, told reporters at a press conference announcing the decision. “We need to make sure to carry on that momentum until November.”

Steyer plowed more than $8.5 million into unsuccessful bids to get a slew of anti-fossil fuel candidates elected to office in 2014. The campaigns fell flat — mostly because the California billionaire funneled his money in areas that were heavily dependent on natural gas production.

He tried like mad to get Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall defeated in 2014, yet the former congressman was defeated in his reelection bid in part because he bent over backward to the anti-fracking crowd. Udall accepted more than $4 million from Steyer during his unsuccessful reelection campaign.

Along with his liberal activism, Steyer supports fossil fuel divestment. He’s waging the battle to get universities, particularly his own Alma matter, Stanford University, to divest fossil fuels for years with no success. He is also a member of the school’s Board of Trustees.

And in late April, the well-heeled Democratic operative suffered a crushing and embarrassing defeat when Stanford refused to purge its oil assets. The school’s decision to stay connected to fossil fuels came a day after NextGen Climate announced is get out the vote campaign.

The stacked up loses have clearly not dampened Steyer’s spirit. He still feels he can keep Trump from winning the California primary, even though the real estate tycoon turned presidential candidate is running largely unopposed.

He is also worried Trump will turn back the tide on the Paris climate summit agreement.

“Trump’s denunciation of the Paris climate accord is not only short-sighted, but would be terribly costly for America and our ability to lead the world,” Steyer said on Wednesday following comments Trump made indicating his willingness to renegotiate the Paris climate summit agreement. “We cannot go backwards on this important step towards a clean energy economy that benefits all our families.”

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