PHOTO/Matt Bieker

Tom Steyer, a philanthropist and former hedge fund manager, is one of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president. His campaign has spent more on advertising in Nevada than the other Democratic frontrunner have spent on their entire national campaigns.

Most of the other Democratic candidates are in New Hampshire tonight, yet you just launched a bus tour in Gardenerville. Why are you focusing so much on Nevada?

Yeah, well I think all the four, like, primary states are important. Nevada is the first really diverse state, you know. It’s a state where I’ve spent—literally that’s 43 years ago when I first came here. And I worked here, and I’ve been organizing here through NexGen since at least seven years ago. We’re in almost every single college campus. And with our partners in labor, we knocked on 500,000 doors in Nevada in 2018. And I ran Question 6, which was 50 percent clean energy by 2030 in Nevada in 2018. So, I spend a lot of time politically in Nevada.

Would you say you’re pretty familiar with the political climate in Nevada?

You know, I’ve been here for the flip. We’ve been organizing the whole time to push for Democratic governor, Democratic state senate, Democratic state legislature, Democratic senators, Democratic Congress people. We’ve been here the whole time and so, you know, I do feel more akin because that, definitely.

What elements of your platform resonate with Nevadans?

Well, one thing that definitely resonates here is I’m not one of the people who’s for a Medicare for all. OK. You know, I’m one of the people who believes we should have a public option as part of the Affordable Care Act and let the people who have negotiated for their health care through their employment keep their health care through the employment if they think that’s better. Believe or not, that’s a pretty big Nevada issue. That’s very different from, you know, I think Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, for instance. I’m talking about a 10 percent tax cut for everybody who makes less than 250,000 bucks. That’s something I think people here care about. There’s a pretty hefty Latino population in Nevada. I have a long history of working on immigrant rights. … And I’ve spent millions of dollars trying to represent and protect fair immigration policies. I’ve spent over $3 million hiring lawyers to represent people under threat of deportation. … There’s a whole bunch of specific Nevada issues like Yucca Mountain, which, if you live in California, you know what Yucca Mountain is, you have an opinion about that.

Commentators have referred to you as a billionaire who bought his way into the race. How do you feel about that?

Look, the only way that anyone’s going to do well in this race is by having a message that resonates, and having people trust him or her. Those are the only two things that really matter. And so I think the idea that you can buy something, you know, votes, is not true. You either have a message that resonates with people, or you don’t. I think if you look at my history, I’ve tried to see the biggest problems and then try and go as hard as I can after them in terms of time and energy and work and money, and that’s all I’m doing. Americans, last I checked, we’re a super hardworking and competitive group of people. … Do I think rich people should pay their share? Yes. I took the Giving Pledge to give most of this money away while I’m alive.