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Steyer Leaves Door Open To Feinstein Challenge

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Venture capitalist and political activist Tom Steyer speaks with reporters after addressing Grant Union High School students in Sacramento on National Voter Registration Day, Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Billionaire former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is not ruling out a challenge to incumbent California U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein next year, if Feinstein decides to run for re-election.

Steyer has repeatedly inserted himself into the public eye as speculation swirls over potential 2018 campaigns for governor or Senate.

On Tuesday, he spoke to students at Sacramento’s Grant Union High School on National Voter Registration Day.

Afterwards, he met with reporters and was asked whether he would promise not to run against Feinstein.

“You know, I really am working on what I’m trying to do,“ Steyer said, acknowledging that it's been hard to strategize his political future.

“And so I hate answering conditional questions, because it’ll always come up and bite you in the rear end,“ he went on. “So really, I’d rather come out with what I do want to do, as opposed to eliminating all the things that I don’t want to do.”

Asked if had a timeline for announcing his intentions, Steyer paused for several seconds, sighed, and replied: “I do, but I don’t think that I’ve reached the time when I absolutely have to make a decision.”

Feinstein has not yet said if she’ll seek a fifth full term in the Senate. She was first elected in a 1992 special election and has established a moderate track record in her 25 years on Capitol Hill. This year, she’s drawn sharp criticism from some liberals  – and it’s likely Steyer would challenge her from the left.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Steyer as a venture capitalist. Although he has invested in start-ups, he is the founder of Farallon Capital Management, which manages investments for institutions and high net worth individuals. We've corrected the story to identify him as a former hedge fund manager. We regret the error.

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