Cal­i­for­nia gains piv­otal role in elec­tion race

The Sunday Telegraph - - World News - By Nick Allen in Washington and David Mill­ward

IT IS an anom­aly of US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions that the coun­try’s most pop­u­lous state rarely has much of a say in who the two party nom­i­nees are.

But all that is about to change as Cal­i­for­nia looks set to take a star­ring role in de­cid­ing which Demo­crat will take on Don­ald Trump, the al­most cer­tain Repub­li­can stan­dard bearer, in 2020.

The “golden state” is plan­ning to move its pri­mary elec­tions, in which its 40mil­lion peo­ple will make their choices, from the end of the cal­en­dar to the start.

By the time its pri­mary was held in the 2016 race both Hil­lary Clin­ton and Mr Trump had al­ready se­cured the party nom­i­na­tions.

It was the sixth time in seven cam­paigns that Cal­i­for­nia, the world’s sixth largest econ­omy just be­hind the UK, proved com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant.

Alex Padilla, Cal­i­for­nia’s sec­re­tary of state, said: “We’re the most pop­u­lous state in the na­tion, the most di­verse state in the na­tion, with the largest econ­omy of any state in the na­tion. We should have much more of a say.” Un­der the plan, the Cal­i­for­nia pri­mary will move from June to March. It will be af­ter Iowa, New Hamp­shire, Ne­vada and South Carolina, but will award far more del­e­gates than all of those states com­bined.

The del­e­gates will be awarded to can­di­dates pro­por­tion­ally, but the win­ner will be given a fly­ing start and huge mo­men­tum.

Elec­tion ex­perts be­lieve that win­ner will then at­tract most of the money pour­ing in from Demo­crat donors, many of whom are based in Cal­i­for­nia, forc­ing other can­di­dates out of the race.

Tra­di­tion­ally, Demo­crat White House hope­fuls treat Cal­i­for­nia, with its wealthy Hol­ly­wood and Sil­i­con Val­ley donors, as a gi­ant cam­paign cash ma­chine, but the donors may now favour some­one from there.

And in what prom­ises to be a very large field, that is a huge boost to at least three se­ri­ous con­tenders who al­ready have power bases in the state.

Chief among them is Ka­mala Har­ris, the state’s for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral. Eric Garcetti, the for­mer LA mayor, is also at­tract­ing at­ten­tion. And there is also Jerry Brown, Cal­i­for­nia’s cur­rent gover­nor.

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