By Ken Stone
Tom Steyer expected the Democrat to win the White House in 2016 and would have said before Election Day: “We will be the loyal opposition to the Clinton Administration.”
The San Francisco billionaire has learned his lesson.
“I’m never saying something that stupid again,” the megadonor vowed Saturday after a rousing 9-minute speech at the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego. “You can ask me … 100 times. We’re just focused on Nov. 6, and everybody else should too.”
That goes for his own potential elective ambitions.
“The idea that people are looking past November of 2018 seems to me to be a disservice to the rest of us,” he said, wary of the possible outcomes — “somewhere from manageable but bad to horrendous.”
Anyone who’s looking past the midterm election and is “willing to take on horrendous because they’re trying to figure out something three years from now, I say should focus on Nov. 6, 2018,” he told Times of San Diego.
He framed his contention another way: “If St. Peter were to give you a provisional entry into Heaven,” would you be looking ahead to your resting spot?
The 60-year-old former hedge fund manager said assuming victory was misguided.
“We did that in 2016, and look where we are,” he said. “All the people who were measuring the carpet in their West Wing office weren’t out on the stump or going door-to-door, weren’t at the CDP convention, weren’t doing all the things in order to win. So we can’t do that.”
Steyer also says he won’t endorse in major California races until after the March 9 entry deadline.
“You’ll notice that Amanda Rentería just entered the race [for governor] last week,” he said, declaring he won’t issue his picks until “everything is shuffled out and all the cards are down.”
Asked about challenges to Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who resist efforts to launch impeachment proceedings, Steyer said he’s tried to avoid “D-on-D races.”
“I understand that they have their own constraints, but there’s nothing that dissuades us from what we’re doing,” he said, calling it “necessary, important and right.”
Fellow San Franciscans Pelosi and Feinstein “are working really hard for Democratic principles,” Steyer said on the Hall F floor at the San Diego Convention Center.
“We believe that we’re telling the most important truth in the United States — that in fact getting rid of this president would relate to every single issue in the United States. It’s an unavoidable and important truth that we need to confront as a matter of principle.”
Citing the original Women’s March, Steyer said: “We will turn the outrage of our supporters and the steel of our resolve into an unmistakable victory for our future.”
He called on thousands to look around the room.
“This isn’t just the headquarters of the resistance. This is the drafting table of our nation’s future,” he said. “We have to be the architects sketching a new vision of what America can be.”
He said on too many issues, the federal government has lost perspective, so people have lost faith in politics.
“That opened the door for more and more cynical corporate money, and it opened the door for a big fat liar named Donald Trump,” he said.
In a shot at Senate Democrats who backed away from a budget fight during the brief federal shutdown, Steyer said: “If we say we’re going to protect the lives of 800,000 Dreamers as a matter of principle, then when the heat is on, when the polling looks back, we don’t capitulate in budget negotiations.”
He called for five rights to be enshrined in the Constitution, including equal pay for women, a living wage, affordable health care, clean air and clean water, and free public education through university.
“If the Democratic Party really is the people’s champion, then our party must stand united and call for this president’s impeachment,” he said.
“Our democracy’s under attack from Washington, D.C. … Really ask yourselves why we’re here today. Ask yourself who you are and who we are, and then come join us.”
Just before leaving the lectern, he spread his arms and said: “Impeach Trump.”
Losing his voice but no sense of humor, Steyer was later asked if he’d have any money left after November 2018.
“That’s a hell of a good question,” he said. “I try not to face that.”
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: