Another billionaire appears to be laying the groundwork to run for president in 2020. Only this one intends run as a Democrat and he has hired one of the best in the business to put together the pieces and devise the strategic game plan — someone who just happens to be from Coeur d’Alene.
You may have seen Tom Steyer’s television ads, especially if you watch CNN. The ads are well done and effective. The first flight made a clear case for beginning impeachment proceedings against President Trump. If you agree with Steyer, he gives you a website to go to and sign a petition which calls on Congress to begin the impeachment process.
Apparently more than one million people have done so.
The second flight of ads is set in Philadelphia, where Steyer speaks eloquently about the Constitution and the fact the president has done nothing about the unprecedented cyber attack on America’s voting system.
Both ad flights feature the tall¸ lanky, thoughtful Steyer, an almost cowboy-like figure, who speaks softly but carries the big stick of someone who knows he is national player and has bought himself a place at the table.
Steyer made a fortune as a hedge fund manager who specialized in more risky investments than many of his peers. The return on investment was commensurate with the risk and his approach of risky investments in unstable spots around the world.
He was easily the biggest contributor to Democratic candidates across the nation last election cycle, doling out $187 million. He and his wife also give generously to charities and foundations, and they’ve taken the “Bill Gates” pledge to give most of their wealth away.
Steyer made no secret last year that he was actively exploring running for governor of California or for the U.S. Senate against five-term incumbent Diane Feinstein. In mid-December, he announced he would do neither.
So what does a ga-zillionaire who has spent hundreds of millions developing high name recognition do next? This is pure speculation — I have no inside track — but I doubt he spent all those millions simply out of the goodness in his heart.
The logical conclusion is he has decided he would do a hell of a lot better job than the current president and he is going after the ultimate prize in politics.
The clincher is that he has hired Idaho’s own Bruce Reed and is probably paying Reed a seven-figure sum to put it all together.
For those of you who don’t know who Reed is, don’t feel bad. He studiously remains behind the scenes, but insiders consider him to be one of the best.
His resume is golden. The son of former Idaho state Sen. Mary Lou Reed and the late super-lawyer, Scott, Bruce attended Princeton following graduation from Coeur d’Alene High. (He was born in Boise 57 years ago.) Next to Cecil Andrus and Frank Church, he is probably the most influential Idaho Democrat in the last half of the 20th century.
Reed received his M.A. from Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, then went to work as a speech writer for Al Gore. He helped found the middle-road Democratic Leadership Council, wrote speeches for Bill Clinton, and was his domestic policy director when Clinton was president. For President Obama, Bruce staffed the Simpson-Bowles Commission and then served several years as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff.
This latter job could prove problematic for Reed if Biden, as rumored, also runs. It is a reasonable guess that Reed, however, will stick with Steyer and help implement a game plan largely crafted by him.
Bottom line is keep your eye on Bruce Reed and don’t be surprised when Tom Steyer carries the D standard into battle in the fall of 2020.
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Chris Carlson is a longtime Idaho political writer who resides in Medimont.