Billionaire Tom Steyer is the newest member of the overcrowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field, but he's cruising past candidates with a longer track record in the race to the debate stage. That's good news for him, but it's opened the door for criticism of his campaign strategy and the Democratic National Committee.
The perception is that Steyer's personal wealth has given him a leg up over other candidates who are gasping for air as they try to reach the 130,000 donor and 2 percent polling thresholds to qualify for the third primary debate in September, The Atlantic reports.
The lesson here: Being a billionaire with a big email list matters more than any previous debate performance -- or campaign work on the ground in the early states. https://t.co/R8Z14kvUZO
Steyer has funneled $7 million into TV commercials since he announced his campaign last month, which is reportedly more than most of the other campaigns have raised overall, and he's already spent $2.5 million on digital ads, a figure greater than any other candidate, including President Trump. A lot of that advertising is on Facebook, which one aide from a rival 2020 campaign equated to a "wealth transfer" between Steyer and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.
Steyer for his part said that his ability to attract donors and support in the polls — he's just one DNC-recognized poll short of fully qualifying for September — isn't about his spending abilities, but his message and vision. "Running grassroots campaigns, at some level, is about running a good campaign, but this is about whether you have something to say that's different, that's true, and that's important," he said.
Not everyone's buying that. "If this is truly about the grassroots, you wouldn't set up a system where you can buy grassroots," one campaign aide told The Atlantic, referring to the rules set in place by the DNC. Read more at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell