In three major states with a governor’s mansion up for grabs in 2018, a big-name, politically active billionaire or multimillionaire is taking steps toward a run — donors looking to take matters into their own hands after 2016’s gutting losses.
In Florida, it’s John Morgan, a wealthy attorney who has long been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest swing-state fundraisers. In Illinois, it’s J.B. Pritzker, the businessman and philanthropist with a history of pumping cash and Chicago political support toward Hillary Clinton. And in California, it’s Tom Steyer, the hedge fund manager-turned climate activist who used the 2014 and 2016 election cycles to become one of the left’s single biggest donors, to the tune of over $140 million. And more may be on the way.
It’s an unexpected development that stands to inject new life into the Democratic Party — but it also exposes the lack of clear pipeline for young, rising Democrats after a series of losses, at a time when they are down to just 18 governors across the country, from 29 just eight years ago.
“There seems to be a feeling that we need to look beyond the normal folks we always look to, the normal types,” said Elisabeth Pearson, the Democratic Governors Association’s executive director, who said the party was discussing a “need to look beyond the type of people who have been elected before, and look at who else might be out there.”