Billionaire philanthropist turned political activist Tom Steyer has already made a big investment in the 2018 election, but in the closing days of the campaign, Steyer has picked his favorite candidate and is pulling out all the stops.
Steyer is personally donating $2 million to Andrew Gillum’s “Forward Florida” political action committee, which is aligned with the Gillum campaign. Through his organization, “Need to Impeach,” he is directing a massive direct mail pitch to 300,000 Florida voters that have signed up to support his effort to impeach President Donald Trump. The mail piece makes specific reference to Gillum’s support of impeachment.
Another organization funded by Steyer, NextGen America, has already spent more than $5 million on efforts to get Gillum elected.
“If you were going to choose a single race that has the most national significance, it would be the governor’s race in Florida,” Steyer said.
Gillum is running against former Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis and the race will be one of the closely watched contests in November since DeSantis has tied himself to President Donald Trump and defeated more establishment Republicans. Gillum, meanwhile, would become the state’s first black governor, and has the backing of progressives like Bernie Sanders.
He went on to say Gillum, in particular, is a special candidate, and that “here you have a young African American that is straightforward on education, good on climate, took on the NRA, straightforward on healthcare, has talked a lot about justice and the criminal justice system and supports impeaching the President. “
Gillum has not been shy in his call for Trump’s impeachment. He proudly stated during the Democratic primary that he was the only candidates who had the “courage” to support that concept and used it to show how he would stand up to the Trump administration if he becomes governor.
While that played well in the Democratic primary, Gillum’s general election opponent DeSantis, has used that position as one of many examples to show that the Democrat is outside mainstream.
“We need a governor that is going to work constructively with the Trump administration to advance Florida’s priorities” DeSantis told CNN in September. “You know Andrew wants to impeach President Trump, about what? I don’t know.”
Steyer doesn’t believe that tying Gillum to impeachment will hurt him with moderate and Independent voters. He also argues that it is not an issue that motivates Republicans either.
“We looked at 5,000 Republican ads and not one of them mentioned impeachment. So, if you want to know if it is a hot-button issue (for Republicans), it isn’t,” said Steyer.
Instead young and minority voters who traditionally stay home during midterm elections will be motivated to support Gillum because he has been so vocal about impeachment, Steyer argued.
“Andrew Gillum is straightforward and speaks the truth and that is why I think we got such a big turnout in the primary and why we will have an even bigger turnout in November,” he said.
The DeSantis campaign did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on Steyer’s contribution.
CNN will host a debate between DeSantis and Gillum Sunday, October 21, at 8p.m. ET/7 p.m.
CNN’s Grace Sparks contributed to this story.
Correction: This story has been updated to correctly reflect that Steyer is donating $2 million to Gillum's political action committee.