18. Tom Steyer
A fundamental question in California politics is this: What is Tom Steyer up to? Steyer, often described as the “billionaire environmentalist,” is a retired hedge fund owner and philanthropist, as well as the single largest funder of Democratic causes in the state. The California-based Steyer toyed with running for governor, or U.S. Senate, but didn’t. Now, the word around the water cooler is that he may run in 2018 for governor, entering a Dem field that already includes Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Supt. of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and state Treasurer John Chiang. Steyer, not pressured by the need to raise money, has time to make up his mind. While Steyer’s influence is heavy in California – especially in the state Senate – it also expands beyond the state’s borders. His political action committees have been involved in races in Virginia, Massachusetts and elsewhere. Last year, his PACs spent nearly $88 million backing Democratic candidates and climate change legislation.
Updated Aug. 29, 2017