In a political system controlled by big money, environmentalists have long had a problem: They simply cannot match the spending of corporations and wealthy individuals with a vested interest in killing their agenda. But now they’ve got a billionaire on their side — and it’s got the Democrats sweating a bit, as Politico points out.
San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer is giving Democrats a taste of the divisive, big-spending primary battles that have caused Republicans so much heartburn over the past four years…
The former hedge fund trader-turned-philanthropist is bankrolling a far-flung political operation pushing environmental causes and candidates, including his pricey effort to torpedo the Keystone XL oil pipeline. He’s increasingly drawing scrutiny for trying to take down the Senate candidacy of Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Democrat who has expressed support for Keystone.
Steyer is signaling that his efforts against Lynch are just the beginning of an aggressive political expansion that could target Democrats in other races who go against environmental causes.
“This is about consequences,” Steyer told POLITICO during an interview at Boston’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul, after days of meeting with college students, faith leaders, environmentalists and clean energy executives to map out his role in the Senate campaign. “If you have a pattern of voting for subsidies for oil and gas and voting against renewables and all this other stuff … there have to be consequences. That’s the whole point of this exercise.”
Democratic campaign professionals are worried that Steyer’s money will do what the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other big-spending conservatives have done to the Republican party, which is push candidates further to the left and make it more difficult for them to get elected. And that’s not an unreasonable fear. This will be very interesting to watch in the future.