Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer plans to add to his New Hampshire campaign staff as his barrage of advertisements have propelled him into the highly sought-after televised debates, according to his campaign manager.
The California billionaire, 62, has made a concerted effort to get his name out there, spending nearly $50 million of his own money on the race so far, and, coupled with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, accounting for about two-thirds of all campaign-ad spending in the Democratic primary.
That investment has been by design, Heather Hargreaves, his campaign manager, told The Sentinel Thursday.
“We have 12 full-time [New Hampshire] staff now and have made offers to multiple staff just this week, so the team continues to grow, and our intention is to have it keep growing in the next few weeks to be ready for the primary in February,” Hargreaves said in a phone interview. “... I think that initially, [the ad spending] was really just about introducing Tom, and, you know, Tom hasn’t ever been a national figure.”
Hargreaves, who was previously the executive director of Steyer’s environmental and voting rights advocacy group, NextGen America — which had a presence in the Keene area during the midterms last year to mobilize young voters — added that Steyer’s profile has already been high among activists in early-voting states, but lagged compared to those of his 2020 competitors.
The influence of Steyer’s wealth in the race has come under implicit attacks from opponents recently, with the Golden Stater securing one of only six spots so far in the December televised debate by meeting DNC requirements to amass enough individual donors and register above 3 percent in approved polls.
Steyer has spent significant sums of money to build that base of donors, including by soliciting them locally with a slew of mailers that began arriving to the region in the late summer.
However, Hargreaves pushed back against the notion that Steyer’s blitz came at the expense of senators, governors and other experienced candidates who have missed out on the debates and, in some cases, subsequently dropped out of the race.
“I don’t think that our presence in the race or Michael Bloomberg’s presence in the race is what’s affected whether people have or haven’t qualified for the debates themselves,” Hargreaves said, citing a recent statement from the campaign calling on the DNC to change the criteria for the January debate to better accommodate a diverse set of candidates.
She attributed the candidate’s success so far to three components of his message: prioritizing climate change, imposing term limits on members of Congress and establishing a national referendum system.
Hargreaves claims that Steyer’s campaign is the only one in the primary putting climate change as a number one priority.
Had Washington Gov. Jay Inslee remained in the race, Hargreaves said, “maybe we wouldn’t have been able to make that statement.”
Steyer has yet to visit the Monadnock Region, but Hargreaves said the campaign plans on making him available in more parts of New Hampshire heading into February.
“I think that that’s just been a function of the time Tom has spent in the state and where he has existing relationships,” she said. “Tom has a history of a presence in New Hampshire. Obviously he went to school there [Phillips Exeter Academy] ... and so we aren’t focused on any particular county or area.
“... but we’ve tried to be across the state.”