Tom Steyer at the People's State of the Union Town Hall in NYC. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Activist and billionaire Tom Steyer is paying more attention to gubernatorial races, but he still feels strongly about Democrats taking back control of the House. "If we don’t flip the House it’s a failed year. Full stop," he told me over coffee while he was in Washington last weekend.

Why it matters: Steyer is becoming the Koch network of the left, investing at least $110 million in the 2018 midterms and implementing on-the-ground teams in battleground states across the country.

  • His Need to Impeach campaign puts him at odds with Democratic leadership, but he's got his finger on the pulse of what's going on at the grassroots level, thanks to his 2,000 volunteers and 1,000 staff members.

While Steyer mentioned multiple times that he thinks Trump and the GOP are contributing to "an atmosphere of lawlessness," he was clearly sick of the Democrats who think it's best to avoid talking about certain issues, like race.

  • "If we know 45% of people are voting [in midterms] that means 55% of people aren't voting," he said. "Why don't we tell the truth and see if those 55% who think the system is full of bologna ... might show up to the polls?"
  • Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor who recently got an additional $2 million boost from Steyer, is what Steyer thinks Democrats should look like in 2018. "They don't need to vote for Republican Lite, they can vote for a real Republican. So we should be talking about race and ethnicity; we should be talking about gender. ... we should be talking about gun violence."

Steyer's closing argument to voters before the 2018 midterms, he says, is simple: "It’s right and wrong. It’s a vote for justice or injustice."

Go deeper

8 hours ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.