California Prop. 39 co-chair Tom Steyer takes photos with students at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, Oct. 28, 2014.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

Tom Steyer drops California Senate bid

Updated

Environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer has decided against a run for the California Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, saying he will focus his efforts on climate activism.

“This was a very hard decision,” he wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post. “The U.S. Senate offers a unique opportunity to serve, but I also know that we will have excellent candidates. I applaud and respect those running, and am confident that Californians will choose a representative who will serve them well. Given the imperative of electing a Democratic president – along with my passion for our state – I believe my work right now should not be in our nation’s capitol but here at home in California, and in states around the country where we can make a difference.”

“The journey is far from over – in fact, it has just begun.”
Tom Steyer
Steyer’s decision is good news for Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, the only candidate who has so far officially declared her intention to run and the race’s early frontrunner. Attention will now to turn to former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villariagosa, who is seriously considering a run and has been telling allies that he’s likely to take the plunge.

Steyer, who spent more than $70 million in the 2014 midterm elections, has long had his eye on the governorship, which will open up in 2018 when Gov. Jerry Brown is forced to retire because of term limits. But Steyer took a serious look at a Senate bid this year after Boxer announced her retirement, even commissioning a poll to test his prospects. 

Related: Kamala Harris to run for California Senate seat

“I ended my professional investing career because it conflicted with my growing concerns about our global warming crisis,” Steyer wrote. “I intend to redouble my efforts working with partners and fellow citizens to push for change. The road we take may be less traveled and less well-marked, but I am very determined. The journey is far from over – in fact, it has just begun.”

He did not offer an immediate endorsement.

Thursday saw a new entrant to the race as well. Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from Burbank, said he is “giving the matter serious consideration.” “Last week, I was named to the top Democratic position on the intelligence committee, and I am deeply grateful for the confidence that my House colleagues have placed in me. The demands and responsibilities of this new position are considerable, and I hope to reach a decision in the near future after consulting with my family, friends and constituents,” he said in a statement.

California, Kamala Harris, Senate and Senate Democrats

Tom Steyer drops California Senate bid

Updated