California continues to grow as an important factor for the Democratic primary elections, as evident by the turnout at California Democratic Party Endorsement Convention held at the Long Beach Convention Center Nov. 15 through Nov. 17.
The state recently moved up its voting date to March 3, 2020, which makes it another Super Tuesday state, like Massachusetts and Virginia.
This is a golden opportunity for the golden state because presidential candidates are traveling throughout the state and taking advantage of the high concentration of voters.
“There have been a number of candidates that have made their way into the state where past presidential candidates historically have not,” California Democratic Chair Rusty Hicks said. “When you get multiple candidates going to the Central Valley and the Inland Empire…I think it’s a great benefit to Democrats.”
The most prominent figure to make this kind of investment is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently opened his fifth office in the state and also took part in the presidential forum at the Long Beach convention.
Aside from legislative talk and popular names, each caucus at the convention gave spotlights to up-and-coming politicians who benefit from speaking to voters in the Democratic base. Each candidate was inspired to talk about the subjects most important to them.
Cenk Uygur, founder of the media outlet the Young Turks, was one of the fresh-faced politicians who jumped into the political process. His main passions are his deep desire to get money out of politics and being a voice for those affected by California forest fires.
“What sparked [my decision to run] was that I kept waiting for other people to call [out] corruption for what it is…and I just got so tired of it,” Uygur said. “Once you get beyond that my district is literally on fire. We got to do the green new deal and get a new energy grid because the power lines keep on going down and literally causing the fires.”
Uygur was just one example of the up-and-comers who made appearances in over a dozen caucuses. All of these new politicians passionately spoke about their personal struggles and not being content with the number of people being dissatisfied with the current political discourse.
For many of these newcomers in the political process, getting the exposure is nice. Though it is difficult to reach out to the voting public for support when they walk out in the middle of an impassioned speech.
A microcosm for that developed in the California progressive caucus where Sanders’ speech seemingly garnered the most attention that any caucus speaker had. A couple of speakers later, fellow presidential hopeful Julian Castro gave an equally compelling speech, but the audience dwindled.
Castro took this in stride and stayed afterward to speak with every constituent that approached him.
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For the candidates that are not considered top-tier, the smaller audiences gave them an opportunity to connect with the people in attendance. When Marianne Williamson left she was able to talk to delegates and take pictures after her speech on the convention center stage.
The headline event for the convention was the Democratic forum that held eight presidential hopefuls: Sanders, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker, philanthropist Tom Steyer and Castro.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren weren’t able to attend the forum because it didn’t fit in with their schedules. As a result, the California Democratic Party leadership replaced them with other candidates.
“There was a robust process…that balanced between polls, both national and state, and the number of donors,” Hicks said. “[And] many say the future comes to California first and I think there is an argument for that in this presidential campaign.”