Billionaire Tom Steyer, whose campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was propelled by his fortune and platform resolved to the climate crisis, has dropped out of the 2020 race after a disappointing finish in South Carolina, a state where he dumped millions of dollars on advertising and made multiple appearances in the hopes of gaining some momentum to compete among top-placed candidates.
“I said if I didn’t see a path to winning that I’d suspend my campaign, and honestly, I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency”, he told supporters on Saturday.
Steyer entered the race following a public campaign calling for Donald Trump‘s impeachment, and spent $10 million on television ads on his “Need to Impeach” movement. That visibility gave him a boost for his entry into the Democratic race, with a campaign centred on combatting climate change and repairing racial and economic injustice.
He would later be the second billionaire in the unprecedented race, after former New York mayor and billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg entered the competition and dwarfed Steyer’s millions of dollars in campaign spending with his own onslaught of ads – both men were decried by candidates who argued that the nomination shouldn’t be determined by people who seemingly could pay for their entry into the field.
Elizabeth Warren said that the ”Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires, whether they’re funding Super PACs or funding themselves”, while Bernie Sanders – who admitted he liked Steyer personally, and who Steyer has praised professionally - said he’s “a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power.”
With his focus on South Carolina, where Bloomberg didn’t appear on the ballot, Steyer spent close to $24m on television ads and hoped to draw support from black voters, ultimately helping him earn 12 per cent of the vote on Saturday.
It proved to be his strongest showing yet, with a projected third-place finish behind Sanders and Joe Biden, who captured 50 per cent of the vote in his first primary win so far. But third place wasn’t enough to provide Steyer’s campaign the momentum it needs in the gruelling contests ahead.
His 11 per cent finish wasn’t enough to capture any delegates.
In his emotional statement to supporters following his withdrawal from the race, Steyer said: “When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window. I will find that window and crawl through it with you, I promise you that.”
He said “meeting you and the rest of the American people has been a highlight of my life” as he pledged to
Sanders’ campaign said: “Ending campaigns is never easy. We understand how hard it can be. We’re looking forward to fighting alongside [Styer] and his supporters to not just defeat the most dangerous president in modern history, but continue fighting after the election.”
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