Scratch another name off the list of prominent Democrats who are taking a pass at a campaign for California's open U.S. Senate seat: billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer.
Steyer made the announcement in a column on Huffington Post Thursday afternoon, citing the desire to keep his focus on the issue of climate change -- and not an expensive statewide campaign.
The news takes a potentially formidable opponent to Attorney General Kamala Harris out of the mix. Steyer, while never having run for political office before, could have easily self-financed a campaign that could be one of the most expensive ever run in California.
The former San Francisco hedge fund manager said it came down to how he could best be effective in 2015 and beyond:
"This was a very hard decision. The U.S. Senate offers a unique opportunity to serve, but I also know that we will have excellent candidates. I applaud and respect those running, and am confident that Californians will choose a representative who will serve them well. Given the imperative of electing a Democratic president -- along with my passion for our state -- I believe my work right now should not be in our nation's capital but here at home in California, and in states around the country where we can make a difference."
The frenzy in the political world in the two weeks since U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) announced that she won't seek another term reflects, in part, the fact that it's been more than two decades since California saw an open Senate race -- as well as the fact that so many prominent Democrats have been waiting for a clear shot at higher office.
Steyer becomes the second prominent Democrat to take a pass at the race, following Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision the day before Harris launched her campaign. Still considering a run for the Senate seat is Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor who many believe would have a strong base of support in Southern California and -- more specifically -- among Latino voters.
Some Latino activists have been critical of what they've called the speedy "coronation" of Harris as the successor to Boxer. Steyer, of course, could have changed that narrative had he launched his own campaign for the job.
U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange County) has continued to say she may be interested in running for the job. Another member of the state's House delegation, U.S. Rep. Eric Swallwell (D-San Jose), ended speculation about his interest on Wednesday by endorsing Harris.
No prominent Republicans have yet said whether they would launch a Senate campaign. Political pundits continue to speculate as to whether California's top-two primary might lead to a Democrat versus Democrat general election in November 2016, though there's a fair amount of historical data and research to suggest it's unlikely.