State Attorney General Kamala Harris has already declared her candidacy for the Senate seat vacated by Barbara Boxer, and there are indications that her primary concern is a possible rival candidacy of billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. Steyer’s associates informed the Sacramento Bee on Sunday that he is strongly considering a Senate run.
Last week, supporters of Harris pushed the results of a December poll covering possible Democratic senatorial candidates in which she received 27% of the vote, while no other candidate received more than 10%. The San Francisco Chronicle surmises that Harris, knowing Steyer has all the funding he would need for a prospective run, and thus would be more immune to poll results, was trying to quash other candidates’ hopes of running. The Chronicle stated, “Steyer might not want to be the lone candidate trying to block the path to Washington of a charismatic woman of color. But if it’s already a crowded field, that’s a different story.”
If Harris eliminated candidates such as former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa or Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both powerhouses among Latino voters, Steyer might well refrain from running alone against Harris. But if he does run, the potential cost for Harris of running a primary campaign against him would be a daunting financial prospect.
Steyer’s pollsters recently informed him that if no GOP notable does well, “there is a clear opportunity” for him to join Harris as one of the “top-two” candidates in the November general election. Steyer himself has said that if cannot achieve his environmental, economic and educational goals after serving one term in the Senate, he would step down.
Those goals include bringing the federal government’s greenhouse gas reduction policy in line with California’s, thus cutting emissions levels down to 1990 levels, changing the federal tax system to punish high earners more decisively by stopping carried interest and amending capital gains taxes, and expand public education past high school to include college, according to the Sacramento Bee.