Billionaire Tom Steyer Hopes To Be Democrats' Answer To Koch Brothers In 2016

| by Ethan Brown
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Sometimes compared to the likes of the infamous Koch brothers, who spend millions of dollars of their own money on pro-Republican advertisements in elections throughout the country, Tom Steyer is looking to be the Democratic version of the Koch family, having recently announced his plan to spend billions of his own wealth on anti-GOP candidates who deny that climate change exists.

Steyer is already known for spending his own money on super political action committees — super PACs; according to the National Journal, Steyer “spent more than $70 million in 2014 trying to defeat GOP climate skeptics, mostly in a losing effort.” Like most involved in politics, Steyer is now looking to 2016 to make a more substantial and successful difference.

On April 7, NextGen Climate, Steyer’s self-funded super PAC announced its plans to challenge climate change deniers in the Republican Party, with one strategy involving connecting Republican candidates to the Koch brothers, who have invested in the fossil fuel industry.

“With each dollar that they’re spending, they’re building a political system that is responsive to their economic bottom line — not the majority of the people, not the will of the people,” said NextGen spokesman Chris Lehane, unveiling the strategy to reporters at a news conference.

Lehane stated that NextGen’s platform will involve increasing awareness of climate change and making it as important an issue as terror attacks, foreign policy or the economy. The plan will be operated from San Francisco and will be referred to as the “Hot Seat.”

One of NextGen’s attempts at attacking GOP candidates was slated to occur on April 7, during U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s announcement he will seek the Republican nomination for president. NextGen will be present at a rally in Kentucky, according to Lehane, and will have a lie-detector test ready for Paul, and plans to ask the candidate if he believes in climate change.

For Steyer and NextGen, the 2014 elections were a loss because in states where they contributed the most funding — Iowa and Colorado — both Democratic candidates lost. Steyer will have the upper hand in 2016, as Republicans will be defending 24 of their seats in the Senate, some in blue-leaning states, including Illinois and New Hampshire. 

“This election represents an electoral crossroads. With the window closing on the time we have to address climate change for our kids, 2016 represents the last best chance to move the politics on this issue,” said Lehane.

Lehane also announced that NextGen has not figured out a final number to spend during the election season. In comparison, the Koch brothers have stated their intent to spent $889 million during the 2016 race, mainly focusing on Senate and governor races.

Sources: National Journal, The Hill

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