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    2020 Gold Rush: San Francisco Welcomes Democrat Presidential Hopefuls

    By Andrea Shorter–

    Spring temperatures have been cooler than usual across the Bay Area, but the weekend’s political forecast is predicted to be thunderous and heated with the California Democratic Party’s (CDP) Organizing Convention descent upon San Francisco starting Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 2.

    The Organizing Convention is the first of two conventions to be held by the CDP this year. The second is the Endorsing Convention, which most political watchers are familiar with or interested in. It is scheduled for November in Long Beach, California.

    The Golden State is hands down the deepest blue state of all. Nearly half (44%) of our state’s registered voters total 8.6 million Democrats. Every single statewide constitutional office holder—governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, insurance commissioner, superintendent of public instruction—is a Democrat. Our senior and junior U.S. senators are Democrats. Forty-six of the 53 people whom we send off to the House of Representatives are Democrats. Electorally speaking, we’re as blue as blue can be.

    You can bet the almond, pistachio and cannabis farm that extending the California Democratic home rule domination into a national home run to take back the White House will be front and center at this year’s organizing convention. And, while the CDP does not endorse in the presidential race, make no mistake that this weekend’s gathering of the party faithful is still an important stop for presidential hopefuls along the way to the White House.

    At least 14 of the 20 plus candidates for president are scheduled to make an appearance at this first stop in the CDP’s two-part convention cycle. According to the CDP, Senator Cory Booker (NJ), Mayor Pete Buttigieg (South Bend, IN), former HUD secretary Julian Castro (TX), former representative John Delaney (MD), Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Senator Kristen Gillibrand (NY), Senator Kamala Harris (CA), former governor John Hickenlooper (CO), Governor Jay Inslee (WA), Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), former representative Beto O’Rourke (TX), Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), Representative Eric Swalwell (CA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) are among the confirmed.

    California’s primary election or Super Tuesday date moved up from June to now March 3, giving the nation’s most diverse and populated state greater relevancy in the presidential primary election season. No more next to last in line: we’re in the big leagues now with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. As the world’s fifth largest economy, and a chief financier and ATM machine for national democratic party electoral interests, the California political class is also banking on a brass tack benefit of exerting greater influence sooner rather than later on the primary and into general election for president.

    While the CDP offers no endorsement for president, pressing palms with some of the most influential party delegates, political operatives, fundraisers and media representatives can pay off. At the very least, the potential media exposure and “while you’re in the area” fundraising events alone are well worth the trip. And, of course, vigilantly dedicating oneself to delivering on the party’s platform concerning the array of pressing matters of social justice and equity for women, LGBTQ, people of color, immigrants and migrants as POTUS 46. 

    We should also expect plenty of commentary or debate on the wisdom or mistake of moving to impeach Trump, and the burgeoning threat to reproductive rights.

    Finally, we can and should also absolutely expect an all hands on deck, full court press from campaign enlisted volunteers, operatives and delegates to promote and capture as many delegate pledges to support California’s own hometown candidate and junior Senator, Kamala Harris. It will be a great opportunity for delegates to meet up close and personal the dozen plus candidates at the dozen plus caucus meetings and at the mic for 2–3-minute addresses before general sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

    Amidst the potentially 3,500 delegates clamoring to meet, shake hands with, and have a quick word or selfie with Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren or Booker, you can bet there will be an army of Kamala Harris for District Attorney, Kamala Harris for Attorney General, and now Kamala Harris For the People t-shirt, ball cap and tote bag-clad supporters and devotees holding it down for her on her home turf.

    The battle for California primary voters is one that no top candidate should take for granted or write off. CDP endorsement or not, vying for a share of the massive California primary voter block is the gold rush of 2020.

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights and marriage equality. A Co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.