Tom Steyer should stop spending his money on a presidential race he can’t win—and start spending it on California newspapers.

Since he got in the race last year, Steyer has spent more than $100 million on his campaign, even though he has no chance of winning. 

That is far more than it would cost to buy four California newspapers in the McClatchy chain, which just declared bankruptcy. Heck, I bet he could get the Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee, Fresno Bee, and San Luis Obispo Tribune for less than $25 million total. He might be able to control McClatchy for about what he has spent running for president,.

And he would have far more impact. Yes, newspapers are dying, but they still provide much of the original reporting done in those cities. Electronic and digital media rely heavily on those institutions. And the journalists and knowledge in those institutions are invaluable.

And since Steyer has political ambitions, he would do himself some good in future races by stepping in to bailout those papers now. And he could use the editorial pages of those papers to advance his own ideas and agenda. 

That may sound dirty, but it’s actually a return to the historical American norm of newspapers as extensions of political parties and political interests.

Indeed, by announcing he intends to buy the papers as he leaves the race, Steyer could turn a moment when he might look like a loser—a campaign dropout—into one that makes him look like a savior of the news in important California communities.