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2020 candidate Steyer: ‘There are people crying on the doorsteps’

  • Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer speaks with the "Valley News" editorial board in West Lebanon, N.H., Jan. 8, 2020. He is a former hedge fund manager, philanthropist and founder of the progressive nonprofit NextGen America. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/8/2020 10:08:14 PM
Modified: 1/9/2020 11:22:11 AM

WEST LEBANON — Investor-turned-activist Tom Steyer declared common cause — up to a point — with billionaire basher and fellow presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during his first campaign swing through the Upper Valley on Wednesday.

“I agree with his goals,” Steyer said of Vermont’s independent senator while stating his own case for the Democratic presidential nomination to Valley News editors and reporters. “I like Bernie. He’s a decent person … He’s telling the truth.”

That truth revolves around a “broken government” and rigged economic system that are breeding despair — and appear to be aggravating high rates of alcohol and opioid addiction and of suicide — among the working Americans he is meeting on the campaign trail, particularly in the first-in-the-nation caucus and primary states.

Steyer said his daughter and her boyfriend came over from England to campaign door to door in Iowa, and that he had just talked to them.

“They said that every single day, people cry with them, and then theycry,” Steyer said.

“There are people crying on the doorsteps,” he said later.

While Sanders, with his well-honed message of political and economic “revolution,” continues to ride high among the leaders in recent polls of likely Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, Steyer said he believes he has “the right prescription” for what ails the country. He proposes attacking climate change with renewable energy technologies that he says would also create a jobs boom, as well as a wealth tax on the super-rich. He also advocates term limits on members of Congress to discourage large corporations from influencing their votes.

“We have seen 40 years, really, of working people getting the short end of the stick, at a shocking level,” Steyer said. “The redistribution of wealth to the richest people … is amazing.

After amassing his own fortune — estimated at more than $1 billion, about $110 million of it taxable, according to The New York Times — through his Farallon Capital Management hedge fund, Steyer in 2012 became a limited partner in the firm, and turned his energies to a variety of progressive causes.

In 2013 he founded the nonprofit NextGen Climate, with the aim of electing Democratic members of Congress willing to buck the fossil-fuel industry and counterbalance the efforts of conservative groups — particularly the billionaire-donor Koch brothers.

And in January 2019, he founded the group Need to Impeach, more than six months before the revelations that President Donald Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine and pressure its government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son’s business dealings in that country.

“This guy has been breaking the law from the first moment he was there,” Steyer said. “This guy is a crook. If you don’t fight crooks, they get worse.”

Nevertheless, Steyer added, “I’m not the impeachment guy. I’m not running on impeachment.” While he hopes that the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has a change of heart and loyalty in the upcoming trial, he has decided that he can best unseat Trump by going head-to-head with him on the promises of economic prosperity that Trump has failed to deliver.

“I have detailed expertise,” Steyer said of his ability to present a winning Democratic message on the economy. “We have to have someone who can talk about growth in a way that people see is sustainable.”.

Steyer began pitching that message upon declaring his candidacy in July, spending $47 million on TV ads over the next three months, according to the Federal Election Commission, and millions more since.

And yet he continues to struggle for traction in the Democratic race: Recent polls put him at 3% among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, 2% in Iowa and 2.2% nationally.

He hopes that his campaign stirs “the 25 to 50% of people who don’t vote” out of frustration with the current system.

“I’m a turnout person,” Steyer said. “If everybody comes out, we win.”

On Wednesday evening, Steyer spoke to more than 60 people who braved snow squalls to reach Jesse’s restaurant on Route 12  0.

David Corriveau can be reached at or 603-727-3304.


During a visit to the Valley News on Wednesday, presidential candidate Tom Steyer discussed encounters with voters that his daughter and her boyfriend had while campaigning for him in Iowa. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described who from the Steyer family was involved.

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