Don’t believe the hype

On a Jan. 14 episode of the Daily Show, just after the seventh debate among the Democratic Party contenders, Daily Show host—and, since he gave us a great interview last time he came through town, friend of the RN&R—Trevor Noah had this to say: “Do these debates even matter at all? … The debates used to be the best way to get in front of the American people. But with two billionaires in the race, the game has changed. Just look at Tom Steyer, for instance. He’s far from a household name. He has the charisma of a clipboard, but recent polls show him surging to second place in South Carolina and third in Nevada, and one guess how he did it,” and then Noah rubbed his fingers together in the obscene, universal gesture for money.

The show then cut to this MSNBC nugget about Steyer: “His Nevada-only ad spending is more than all of the ad spending of Biden, Warren and Klobuchar combined nation-wide.”

It's staggering to consider. Tom Steyer has spent more on advertising in Nevada than other candidates—top-tier, household-name candidates—have spent in their entire national campaigns. Democratic candidates have spent a total of 11.6 million in Nevada, of which 10.4 was spent by Tom Steyer.

So, you're not just going crazy if, as a Nevada resident, you feel like you see Steyer's face everywhere you go—there he is on TV, on social media, on billboards—hell, there could even be an ad for the guy in this very newspaper. (The RN&R editorial board, a.k.a. the RN&R editors, aren't privy to advertising information in advance of publication.)

And it seems to be working. Steyer's strong polling in Nevada and South Carolina, two early voting states, were the reason he's made it onstage in the last couple of debates, and he seems to be banking his strategy on doing well in the two states.

But don't let him fool you.

He's the candidate equivalent of a corporate punk band or one of those beers that are produced by a national distributor but presented like some kind of hip microbrew. He's like human greenwashing.

He seems innocuous enough, and most of his policy positions seem fine, if not particularly original. And thanks for spending all that money in Nevada, Tom.

Would we balk at him being named to a cabinet position—say, Secretary of Energy? Not at all.

Still, he's a hedge fund manager billionaire who bought his way into the Democratic presidential race. He has almost no real experience, no vision, no substance. No way we want to reward that. We're sick of billionaires.

There are viable presidential candidates worthy of support still in the field. Tom Steyer isn't one of them.