California gains pivotal role in election race
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.