With the New Hampshire primary beginning Tuesday, the 2020 Democratic primaries are in full swing. Since launching their campaigns, democratic frontrunners Pete Buttigeg and Bernie Sanders have scored big endorsements from Robert De Niro and Joe Rogan, respectively. However, another presidential candidate, Tom Steyer, recently received an endorsement from a prominent South L.A. leader: L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Ridley-Thomas has served as supervisor for Los Angeles County’s Second District since 2008. His district covers a large portion of South L.A., encompassing neighborhoods including Baldwin Hills and Watts.
According to his website, Ridley-Thomas has spent his time in office working to combat homelessness, authoring and leading LA County’s effort to end the crisis through Measure H. The county supervisor has come out in support of Steyer because the native New Yorker has long supported the people of California, said Ridley-Thomas.
“What Californians may not know is that time after time, Tom Steyer has stepped forward and partnered with community efforts to protect our air and water, expand access to parks and open space for everybody including communities that have the greatest need, ” Ridley-Thomas said.
Steyer, a Bay Area billionaire and former hedge fund manager, announced his presidential campaign in July 2019. Prior to this, Steyer was the head of “Need to Impeach,” a political group dedicated to seeing President Donald Trump impeached. He’s since said his group’s work was what inspired the government to begin the impeachment processes, which ultimately led to the president’s impeachment.
“I truly believe those eight-and-a-half million people pulled Washington, DC, into doing the right thing and holding the most corrupt president in American history [to] account,” Steyer said in an interview with “Mother Jones.”
According to the “New York Times,” Steyer ranks eighth out of the 11 democratic candidates in national news coverage. Although he’s a lesser-known candidate, Steyer received some national attention last month as the man in the middle of an uncomfortable spat between Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The incident happened on stage following a Democratic debate, when Warren confronted Sanders by saying, “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” Unaware, Steyer drifted over to the two after shaking hands with Buttigeg, his smile quickly faded as he awkwardly stood between the two arguing senators.
"I don't want to get in the middle," Steyer said as he stood in the middle of them. “I just want to say hi, Bernie.”
Prior to this meme-inspiring moment and his entrance into the 2020 presidential race, Steyer was involved in L.A. county politics, where he worked to alleviate the area’s homelessness crisis.
“Tom was involved in a number of ballot initiatives across the state looking to tackle the homelessness crisis,” said Frances Sawyer, Steyer’s Senior Policy Advisor, in a phone interview. “In 2016 and 2017, Tom was involved with two different ballot initiatives in L.A. county, Proposition HHH and Measure H.”
According to Sawyer, Measure H works by imposing a sales tax that is used to fund support services for homeless Californians. The revenue goes to things like mental health, substance abuse treatment, job training and rental subsidies.
In addition to working to end the homeless crisis in Los Angeles, Steyer has also been a vocal climate change activist for years. In 2013, the billionaire started NextGen Climate, now known as NextGen America, which is a group that focuses on educating young voters on issues like climate change. According to “Vogue,” Steyer has also spent millions of dollars on clean energy initiatives in California.
“He has a real record here in California doing all kinds of things, especially in terms of climate activism and other initiatives all around the state,” said Luca Servodio, Steyer’s Deputy Press Secretary, in a phone interview.
In response to receiving Riddley-Thomas’s endorsement, Steyer said he was “honored.”
“I am thankful to have the support of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. He has been an incredible voice for the community of Los Angeles, and I’m honored that he recognizes the positive impact of our work together protecting and preserving the environment for ALL communities, and taking bold steps to address the homelessness crisis,” Steyer said, who just last week opened two new offices in Southern California.