Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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United States

United States of America — Democratic PartyCandidate for President

Photo of Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer

113,092 votes (2%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Climate Change/Environmental Justice: For almost a decade, I have taken on corporate polluters with people-powered activism — and won. My commitment to people-powered change at a community level makes me a strong candidate on the environment
  • Economic Justice: I founded my small investment firm and grew it into a $36 billion international company. Over that time he became intimately familiar with our economy. Read more about ​my Economic Plan​.
  • Structural Reform and Term Limits: I want to fix our broken government: I propose a term limit of 12 total years that would allow our elected officials to focus less on getting re-elected and more on doing what’s right.



Founder, NextGen America (2013–current)
Founder and managing partner, Farallon Capital (1986–2012)


Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA (1983)
Yale University B.A., economics and political science (1979)


Tom Steyer is committed to combating climate change, fixing our government, and, when elected president, putting people, and not corporations, in charge of our democracy. After starting and growing a successful investment firm, Tom stepped down in 2012 to focus his energy and resources to these causes. 

In 2013, he founded NextGen America, a nonprofit group that combats climate change, promotes social justice, and increases participation in our democracy through voter registration and grassroots organizing.

Across the country and in his home state of California, Tom has shown repeatedly that going directly to the people and raising their voices is the way to beat entrenched corporate interests and win fights for fairness. He helped beat Big Oil to protect California’s landmark clean-air laws and he followed that up with wins for clean energy in Michigan and Nevada. He helped close a massive corporate tax loophole to generate at least $1.7 billion for public schools. He helped beat big tobacco companies and forced them to pay their share of healthcare costs for the harm their products have caused.

Tom and his wife Kat Taylor have devoted countless hours of their time and donated tens of millions of dollars to charitable projects that advance education, renewable energy, clean air and water, healthy food, sustainable agriculture, self-sustaining communities and more.

Tom’s parents taught him that action always speaks louder than words. Their charitable foundation powered the creation of “California Food for California Kids,” a program that now serves more than 300 million healthy meals yearly to the state’s school kids using natural food from California farms. Another charitable project is Beneficial State Bank, which since 2007 has loaned money affordably to working people, small businesses and nonprofit community projects shut out by regular banks. Tom and Kat have given more than $120 million to building the bank, which reinvests any profits back into the communities it serves. Their support of the bank is ongoing.

Tom graduated from Yale and earned his MBA at Stanford. Working on Wall St. was not for him, so he moved to San Francisco in 1986 and started his own small investment firm. Backed by two seasoned investors, Tom started managing the new fund, which began with $9 million in investments. Over the years, Tom achieved double-digit returns for his investors — mostly universities, foundations and individuals. His success built the firm to $36 billion in investments at the fund’s peak.

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (3)

What financing method(s) would you support to repair or improve roads, rails, ports, airports, the electrical grid, and other infrastructure in the U.S.?
Answer from Tom Steyer:
In order to break the cycle of the catastrophic effects of climate change, we need to build resilient infrastructure and a renewable economy. Renewable energy is the future, and as we move away from fossil fuels we will need to replace them with renewable energy sources. As part of my ​Justice Centered Climate Plan​, I will dedicate $2 trillion of public investment to mobilize over $6 trillion total for long-overdue infrastructure projects, including projects for advancing clean energy, climate resilience, and improving public lands. I will also leverage $250 billion towards sustainable housing and building upgrades, improved sewer and stormwater systems, clean energy, and clean transportation systems. Building these projects will create millions of jobs and get us on the path to a sustainable future for all. These projects include: ● $450B for maintenance backlog and resilience upgrades for existing roads, bridges, and levees ● Over $775B for clean-transportation infrastructure ● Over $3T for energy, industry, and building upgrades and pollution reduction projects To pay for these necessary changes, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. It’s time they paid their fair share. As President, I will also implement a wealth tax on the top 0.1% to generate significant additional revenue that can be used to invest in the American people and strengthen our economy. I will make sure that investment income from capital gains and dividends, exclusive of qualified retirement accounts, is taxed at the same rate as income earned from a job. I will also roll back the tax cuts on wealthy families and corporations to Obama-era levels. That means the tax rate for the top 1% of American households — for individuals making more than $418,000 and married couples making more than $470,000 — will return to 39.6%., and the corporate tax rate will be restored to 35%. In my home state of California, I helped close a corporate tax loophole to generate $1.7 billion for infrastructure improvements, including energy upgrades to public schools.
What programs or legislation, if any, would you support to help Americans of all ages to secure affordable health care?
Answer from Tom Steyer:

With millions of Americans living without insurance, we need to make universal access to coverage a reality. I will protect key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and reaffirm the ACA’s commitment to provide for people younger than 26 and those living with pre-existing conditions. My plan for a public option offers fully subsidized enrollment for the nearly 5 million qualifying individuals who should be covered under an expanded Medicaid. My framework allows people who receive coverage through their employer to opt into the public option if it better suits their needs. To increase affordability for the middle class, my plan will expand financial subsidies offered by the ACA.

As president, I will provide a healthcare system that covers more Americans at a lower cost. I will repeal rollbacks to the Affordable Care Act, enact a strong public option, and institute insurance industry rate review. My public option will enable the government to negotiate health care costs directly with medical groups and providers, just like Medicare does today.

By preserving the Affordable Care Act and introducing a public option we can use the negotiating power of the government to dramatically lower costs, including for prescription drugs and premiums. We can provide quality medical care to millions more families and individuals while allowing Americans to keep their employer-based health care if they choose to do so. I don’t believe in forcing people to give up their health care if it works well for them and their families — and I don’t think we should give corporations another chance to push more of their own costs onto American taxpayers. A public option will expand coverage while making healthcare much more affordable and improving system quality, deliverability and accountability.

In my healthcare framework, individuals who receive their care through a large employer’s plan could opt into the public option if it is better for their needs. For businesses with greater than 50 employees, there would be a penalty payment to help defray the cost of that enrollee’s plan. My plan would also grow the Small Business Health Options Plan (SHOP) and allow businesses with fewer than 50 employees to opt into the public option or choose to offer the private plan.

Describe an immigration policy that you would support if presented to the President.
Answer from Tom Steyer:

Seeking asylum in the US is legal — and the story of asylum is woven into the origins of our country. When the most vulnerable reach the U.S. seeking safety and shelter, we have the opportunity to showcase the best of our humanity. I will institute a robust case management system in which asylees may enter the U.S., remain in safety while their asylum case is being processed, and are able to obtain temporary work permits so they can productively fulfill their family’s needs while waiting for this claim. And I will increase financial and staff resources for processing asylum cases.

The review process for families seeking asylum also takes far too long. The majority of asylum seekers pose little risk to public safety and can be released as they await their hearings.It is inhumane that anyone — and especially children — are being caged like animals. I would also eliminate the use of family detention centers and end child separation policies. Holding families indefinitely without due process is a violation of human rights.

The people of the United States have a right to safe and secure borders, and to protect this right I will ensure the continuation of critical border security operations. We must have a presence at our borders, as much to help those who seek refuge in our country to prevent entry to those who would do us harm. As president, I will upgrade ports of entry, smartly screen containers and freight, and stop traffickers from moving drugs, guns and people they seek to extort and abuse. And I will ensure strong accountability and transparency at CBP. We don’t have to trade border security for compassion — it’s un-American and ineffective. We can have a secure border that is still open for commerce, travel, and legal immigration.

The 10.5 – 12 millionundocumented Americans are an important part of our society and integral to our country’s economic engine. They are our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. They were children adopted into American families and they are the parents of U.S. citizens. Yet despite this, politicians in D.C. have failed to do right for them or for our nation by recognizing their contributions and presence. This is unconscionable. As President, I will work closely with Congress to establish a fair, equitable, and expedited pathway to citizenship.

On day one of my presidency I will reinstate and extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), including Advance Parole for DACA recipients, and enact Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), ensuring that the millions who rely on those programs will be able to live their lives openly in our workplaces, classrooms, and communities. I will end the racist Muslim ban. And I will redesignate nations under a revitalized Temporary Protected Status program to ensure those from nations fleeing war or natural disaster can rebuild their lives without fear. And last, I will work toward a pathway to permanent residency for those within these programs.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $369,031,586

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Tom Steyer
Employees of Hellman & Friedman
Employees of Farallon Capital Management
Employees of Berger Singerman
Employees of Tom Steyer 2020

More information about contributions

By State:

California 99.88%
New York 0.03%
Florida 0.01%
Connecticut 0.01%
Other 0.07%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.32%)
Small contributions (0.68%)

By Type:

From organizations (0.00%)
From individuals (100.00%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

For 10 years, I have been supporting, leading, and fighting battles on the ground with the people. Too many Americans feel like their voice doesn’t matter — that the system is rigged in favor of corporations and special interest groups.

In the recent midterms, I led the largest youth voter-turnout effort in the history of our country. Our organizers worked in hundreds of college campuses and city neighborhoods across the country to increase voting by youth, people of color, workers and other underrepresented groups.

My wife, Kat Taylor, and I have devoted hours of time and donated tens of millions of dollars to charitable projects in the service of education, renewable energy, clean air and water, healthy food, sustainable agriculture, self-sustaining communities and more. And even now, during my presidential campaign, I continue to support the causes I believe in and work toward serving the American people with my time, energy, and money.

Our foundation powered the birth of “California Food for California Kids,” a program that now serves millions of healthy meals yearly to young students in the state using natural food from California farms.

When Wall Street banks took advantage of millions of Americans during the recession, my wife Kat and I took action. We started a non-profit community bank with a simple theory: give people a fair deal and a shot at real economic power, giving people an alternative to the big financial institutions that have treated customers, communities, and the planet so badly. Corporate greed in the banking industry has left many Americans out of shared prosperity.

At Beneficial, we put the interests of consumers and borrowers first, and promote a regulatory framework that aligns with our philosophy that banks must do no harm and operate in a fair, transparent, and inclusive way. We invested in the community, in businesses owned by women and people of color, and affordable housing.

Position Papers

Tom's Policies


This position paper will cover my top priorities in the areas of Climate Justice, Economic Justice and Structural Reform

Climate Justice

Climate is my top priority: for almost a decade, I have taken on corporate polluters with people-powered activism — and won. My commitment to people-powered change at a community level makes me a strong candidate on the environment — I will use the emergency powers of the presidency to take action on climate on day one.

Justice Centered Climate Plan:

My Justice Centered Climate Plandedicates $2 trillion in federal funding over ten years, mobilizing trillions more inprivate capital, to long-overdue investments in America’s infrastructure, including investments in clean transportation, water, operational systems, the energy grid, farms and rural development, building retrofits, maintenance, affordable housing, universal broadband, and more.

We will lift up local voices and build a Civilian Climate Corps — a combined service, training, and job creation effort — to implement tailored solutions specific to the needs of individual communities. I will protect residents’ rights to self-determination as investments are made in their communities, ensuring that people living in areas heavily burdened by pollution and climate

impacts are not displaced by development. And I will protect the right of individuals to return to their communities if they have been displaced by climate-related disasters by creating a federal rent replacement insurance fund for victims of climate-related disasters. I will support increasing support for affordable housing, transit-oriented development, home ownership, and protections against displacement.

My work on climate began in local communities impacted by the climate crisis in Northern California. I understand that communities of color are more often adversely affected by the impacts and causes of climate change, and I will work to address this by creating an Environmental Justice Division in the Department of Justice. This division’s roles will include clearly defining criteria for acts of environmental racism, ensuring equal protection against environmental harms, and prosecuting environmental civil rights violations in actions under every agency’s jurisdiction.

Economic Justice

I founded my small investment firm and grew it into a $36 billion international company. Over that time he became intimately familiar with our economy. Read more about my Economic Plan.

I’m a progressive and a capitalist, but unchecked capitalism produces market failures and economic inequities. Our economic system provides Americans freedom of choice, fosters innovation and competition, rewards ingenuity and hard work, and is the most efficient way to generate sustained economic growth and productivity. Unchecked capitalism hijacks our democracy for the benefit of big corporations, writes rules that ultimately limit competition to maximize corporate profits, squeezes the middle and working classes, exacerbates racial and gender income and wealth disparities, starves the government of resources, and undermines the foundations of fair markets.

The people must be in charge of our economy — but socialism isn’t the answer. Putting the people in charge requires an economic framework built on the three core principles I call the People Over Profits Economic Agenda: breaking the corporate stranglehold on government, investing in the American people, and harnessing innovation and competition.

Working Families Tax Cut: Tax breaks for the wealthiest people in our country aren’t working, and aren’t fair. If we are going to solve the widespread issue of economic inequality in America, we need to stop cutting taxes for the rich. We Need A Wealth Tax. No deductions, no exemptions, no loopholes. It’s time the wealthy pay up. Families making less than $250,000 and individuals making less than $200,000 will receive a 10% tax cut, impacting 95% of American families. The nation is better served by putting more money into the hands of ordinary Americans than the rich and corporations.


Structural Reform

I want to fix our broken government: I proposea term limit of 12 total years that would allow our elected officials to focus less on getting re-elected and more on doing what’s right. He will fight to:

Repeal Citizens United

Corporations aren’t people, and they shouldn’t be controlling our politics. The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United must be overturned and the public financing of campaigns becomes the law of the land.

Restructure the Federal Election Commission (FEC)

The FEC is an independent agency that oversees our elections — but it has been plagued by internal dysfunction. We will reform the broken FEC by making necessary changes to its budget, commissioner composition, independence from other branches of government, and penalty enforcement.

Limit Congressional Terms

There’s a widespread perception that the longer an elected official serves in Congress, the less connected they are to their constituents — and the more beholden they become to corporate interests and lobbyists. We propose a term limit of 12 total years that would allow our elected officials in both the House and Senate to focus less on getting re-elected and more on doing what’s right.

Increase Voter Participation with a National Referendum

Voters should feel that their voices count, and should be more directly involved in deciding important issues that affect their lives. We plan to have bills introduced in both the House and Senate to establish a national referendum process, establish an office to implement and oversee this process, and develop criteria to place no more than two key issues annually before the national electorate to vote on. This process would increase voter participation, thwart congressional gridlock, and give the American people more power over their democracy.

Initiate a Vote-At-Home System

A Vote At Home system would make voting more convenient by providing voters with postage-paid absentee ballots, and would allow voters more time to participate in our democracy, as well as increase overall election security.

Support Important Election Reform Legislation

The For the People Act (HR 1), the Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Native American Voting Rights Act need to be signed into law immediately.

Establish Independent Redistricting Commissions

When partisan elected officials draw district lines, the electoral maps they draw rig the system in their favor and attempt to suppress and dilute the votes in communities of color. We need independent, non-partisan redistricting commissions to draw these boundaries, and eliminate racial gerrymandering. 

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