Rich Donor Aims to Oust Climate Change Skeptics

Billionaire Tom Steyer plans $100M push in seven states
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2014 7:12 PM CDT
Tom Steyer in a 2013 file photo.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(Newser) – He is an environmental activist who also happens to be a billionaire, and Tom Steyer plans to bankroll efforts to keep Republican "science-deniers" out of office, reports CNN. The retired hedge fund manager is donating $50 million to the NextGen Climate super PAC, and the group plans to raise another $50 million itself. The immediate goal is to use the money to back Democratic candidates in seven states—Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and New Hampshire, and governors' races in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Maine. But Steyer and veteran political strategist Chris Lehane say the larger goal is to make climate change a big issue in the 2016 presidential race, reports the New York Times.

Steyer announced his push yesterday, and the Denver Post provides a sense of the immediate impact it's having on the Senate race in Colorado between incumbent Mark Udall and GOP challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. "Make no mistake about it, Sen. Udall and Tom Steyer support an energy agenda that would not only do great harm to Colorado's economy, but would wreak havoc on family's pocketbooks," said a spokesman for Gardner, who has taken money from conservative groups funded by the Koch brothers. Notably absent from those who will be receiving help from Steyer: Democratic candidates who have expressed support for the Keystone XL pipeline. (Steyer previously drew attention for his hefty donations in last year's Virginia governor's race.)

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