US billionaire Tom Steyer speaks at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, the US, June 1 2019. Picture: JOSH EDELSON/AFP
US billionaire Tom Steyer speaks at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, the US, June 1 2019. Picture: JOSH EDELSON/AFP

Washington  — Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager turned liberal activist, announced on  Tuesday he is entering the crowded race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Steyer, who has been focused on impeaching President Donald Trump, announced his candidacy in a video message. He said he was running because Americans “think the system has left them”.

Steyer, 62, hinted at a run a 2020 run earlier in 2019, but showed up in Des Moines, Iowa, in January only to announce he had decided against it.

Tom Steyer announces his candidacy.

The billionaire said on Tuesday that corporations have bought the US’s democracy and “politicians don’t care and don’t respect” citizens. The aim of his campaign would be “to make democracy work by pushing power down to the people.”

Steyer poured $120m  into the 2018 midterms through two of his organisations, Need To Impeach and NextGen America, one aimed at turning out young voters and fighting climate change and the other pushing Trump’s impeachment. Both helped him raise a national profile.

In his first day as a presidential candidate, Steyer already spent $1.05m  on TV ads placed in key states, such as  Nevada, South Carolina, and Iowa, as well as Boston.

A voice-over to the announcement video says Steyer and his wife are “worth an estimated billion and a half dollars”.  Bloomberg data show his net worth at $3.1bn.

His campaign debut video does not mention impeachment, but it does feature shots of Trump, as well as his former lawyer Paul Manaford, in handcuffs.

The country is working for “a few very very rich people, and everybody else living in misery”, Steyer says in the video.

Several other Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, have been running on similar messages.

Steyer would not  be unfamiliar to Iowa caucus-goers. Need to Impeach PAC has spent more on television airtime there than every other Democratic candidate combined, and the commercials often feature Steyer himself directly arguing for Trump’s removal from office.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell faces his highest-profile challenge yet, with former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath announcing she will seek to unseat the Kentucky Republican  in 2020 in what is sure to be an expensive campaign.

McGrath, who raised millions in an unsuccessful effort to win a House seat in 2018, said McConnell “bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise”.

“I’m running for Senate because it shouldn’t be like this,” she said in an announcement video.

Bloomberg