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Tom Steyer officially announces presidential bid

US philanthropist Tom Steyer speaks on stage during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California on June 1, 2019. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Billionaire Tom Steyer officially entered the presidential race on Tuesday, saying he would seek the Democratic nomination for president despite having previously ruled out a run in January.

In a video released Tuesday morning, Steyer said, “If you think that there’s something absolutely critical, try as hard as you can and let the chips fall where they may. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. My name’s Tom Steyer, and I’m running for president.”

Steyer reportedly told staffers on Monday that he was going to get in the race. A source told CNN Steyer began planning an announcement in June and told staffers from the two organizations he funds, Need to Impeach and Next Gen, that he plans to launch a 2020 bid.

Steyer has operated as a funding force in Democratic politics in recent years, bankrolling candidates and organizations that promote liberal causes, including the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Steyer’s net worth reached $1.6 billion this year according Forbes, a fortune he began amassing in 1986 when he launched his hedge fund Farallon Capital.

The 2018 House races marked the third consecutive election cycle in which Steyer spent tens of millions of dollars supporting Democratic candidates. But it’s Steyer’s efforts to impeach Mr. Trump which have made him the most visible — starring in self-funded television commercials where he calls on Congress to remove the President from office.

Steyer initially cited his efforts to impeach President Trump in January as the reason he would not launch a presidential bid of his own.

“Now the impeachment question has reached an inflection point,” he said. “Therefore, I will be dedicating 100% of my time, effort and resources to one cause, working for Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.”

He added: “I am not running for president at this time. Instead, I am strengthening my commitment to Need to Impeach in 2019 until the House starts impeachment proceedings or Mr. Trump resigns.”

Steyer joins an already crowded Democratic primary that has already held its first round of primary debates.

A CNN poll last month showed former Vice President Joe Biden leading the race with 22% support followed by California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who made steep gains following their debate performances.

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