Welcome to the Democratic presidential primary, Tom Steyer. Elizabeth Warren disapproves of your campaign.
“The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires, whether they’re funding Super PACs or funding themselves,” Warren tweeted Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund founder and liberal philanthropist, officially launched his 2020 campaign.
The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires, whether they’re funding Super PACs or funding themselves. The strongest Democratic nominee in the general will have a coalition that’s powered by a grassroots movement.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 9, 2019
While her tweet did not mention Steyer by name, it mirrored previous criticisms Warren had lobbed at billionaires considering self-funded presidential campaigns, like Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Steyer’s campaign — which did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon — told The New York Times that he has “committed to spending at least $100 million” on his 2020 campaign.
Despite announcing in January that he wouldn’t run for president, Steyer reversed course this week, launching a campaign focused on “reforming our broken political system and saving our planet from the ravages of climate change.” Since 2013, the 62-year-old Californian has funneled tens of millions of dollars to his grassroots organizations calling for action to address climate change and the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
While Steyer’s populist message about fixing a democracy “rigged” by corporate interests echoes the central theme of Warren’s campaign (they even appeared in videos together last summer), his self-funding strategy stands in stark contract to the fundraising path being taken by the Massachusetts senator, who was sworn off receptions and fundraisers with high-dollar donors.
“The strongest Democratic nominee in the general will have a coalition that’s powered by a grassroots movement,” she said in her tweet Tuesday.
Warren announced Monday that she had raised more than $19 million in the second quarter of 2019, more than tripling her first-quarter haul and outpacing Sen. Bernie Sanders, her top progressive rival in the 2020 race.
Sanders, whose campaign also relies on grassroots fundraising, similarly did not greet Steyer with the warmest welcome into the 2020 race Tuesday.
“I have known Tom for a number of years and I like Tom personally, but I do have to say as somebody who in this campaign has received 2 million contributions, averaging $19 a person, I’m a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power,” Sanders said in an interview on MSNBC.