Josh Richman

By Josh Richman
Thursday, January 15th, 2015 at 12:13 am

Hedge fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer said Tuesday he’s considering whether to run for California’s U.S. Senate seat in 2016, but apparently he’s been mulling this for a while: A polling memo shows he commissioned a survey on his chances in mid-December.

And those chances aren’t bad, the poll found (which, no doubt, is why I was able to obtain the memo).

“Our December survey shows that Tom Steyer is clearly a strong contender to win the seat now open due to the announced retirement of Senator Barbara Boxer,” according to the memo from the firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. “Steyer’s profile, background and the storyline of his political and charitable involvement combine to form an attractive foundation for a candidacy.”

CincinnatusLest anyone worry how healthy an opinion Steyer, 57, of San Francisco has of himself, the memo was addressed to “Team Cincinnatus” – presumably referring to the Roman statesman hailed as an icon of virtue, selflessness and humility after twice being chosen for, and then twice resigning, the mantle of dictator in order to protect the republic. Big sandals to fill, there.

The poll conducted from Dec. 18-22 asked 600 California registered Democrats and nonpartisan voters about their priorities; they named the environment – including climate change, the need for clean-energy jobs, and anti-pollution efforts – among the three top issues facing California’s next senator, along with education and income inequality. The poll also found:

75 percent would be likely to support a candidate who led the fight to pass Proposition 39, the successful 2012 ballot measure that closed a corporate tax loopholes for out-of-state companies and set some of the revenue aside for schools and clean-energy construction jobs;

79 percent would be likely to support a national leader in promoting new clean energy technologies;

66 percent would be likely to support a candidate who “believes climate change is the biggest challenge of our times”;

66 percent would be likely to support a successful businessman who understands how the global 21st Century economy works; and

65 percent say they would be likely to support a candidate who has committed to giving away the majority of his personal wealth to help the next generation get a fair shake.

All of these questions were asked without any mention of Steyer’s name. Afterward, when respondents were read an actual description of Steyer, 75 percent said they would be likely to support him, including 41 percent who said “very likely.”

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