Elon Musk does not hide it: He will wield his media influence and financial power in the midterm elections in November and the race for the White House leading to November 2024.
Tesla's charismatic and whimsical chief executive has more than 103.3 million Twitter followers, giving him a massive platform and megaphone to sway public opinion and influence potential voters.
Musk has also pledged to personally spend $20 million to $25 million to support his favorite candidate in the presidential election.
The serial entrepreneur's fortune is estimated at $268 billion as of Aug. 15, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is thus the only person whose fortune exceeds $200 billion. The net worth of Jeff Bezos, the world's second richest man, is estimated at $167 billion in the same benchmark.
Musk Is Republican ... for Now
With these two powerful weapons -- money and charisma -- Musk has become increasingly political. But he also risks alienating buyers and would-be buyers of Tesla vehicles, who often live in and around major Democratic-Party-leaning cities.
Indeed, the mogul recently let on that he will vote Republican in November, and he predicted a red wave in the midterm elections.
"I voted for Mayra Flores – first time I ever voted Republican," Musk posted on Twitter on June 15. "Massive red wave in 2022."
The same day, the billionaire had indicated that he was leaning toward the Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, as the conservative candidate for the presidential election of 2024.
Criticized last month by former President Donald Trump, who has ambitions to run again, Musk reiterated his backing of DeSantis and urged the former president to retire from politics and give way to younger people.
"Trump would be 82 at end of term, which is too old to be chief executive of anything, let alone the United States of America," the tech titan responded on July 11. "If DeSantis runs against Biden in 2024, then DeSantis will easily win – he doesn’t even need to campaign."
Musk as Guest Speaker at Republican Fundraiser
The billionaire is about to make his real entry into the political arena. According to the New York Times, Musk on Aug. 16 will be the guest speaker at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-California) traditional annual retreat in Wyoming.
"A person familiar with the schedule at McCarthy's WY retreat said attendees are expecting Elon Musk as a featured speaker tomorrow," reported New York Times' political journalist Maggie Haberman on Aug. 15.
Neither Tesla nor McCarthy's team immediately responded to a request for comment.
McCarthy's two-day retreat, Aug. 15-16, in Jackson, Wyo., aims to raise money for both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund. These two groups are helping Republicans in their effort to regain control of the House.
Musk's intervention also coincides with a crucial Republican primary in Wyoming. On Aug. 16 voters choose a House candidate, either incumbent Liz Cheney, who became a fierce opponent to Trump and McCarthy, and Harriet Hageman, who according to CNN is an attorney focused on natural resources and agricultural issues. Hageman is backed by Trump and McCarthy.
McCarthy aims to become House speaker if the Republicans win in November.
Musk's presence at this traditional gathering of elected Republicans divided commenters on social networks. Some criticize his involvement in politics and others encourage him.
"Weird that Musk has become so political lately. What’s he got cooking?" a Twitter user wondered.
"Can’t imagine he has political ambitions. He’s a billionaire and wasn’t born in the U.S. so president is out of the question," commented another user.
"He needs Republicans to buy his cars," quipped another one.
But many comments were also supportive of Musk.
"How about listening to what he actually SAYS, before passing judgement," posted one Twitter user.
"I’d hear what he has to say," wrote another user.