February 24, 2020

Skelton: How California will impact Democratic presidential race

California voters are about to discard and qualify some candidates for the sprint to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Until now, the race has been a slow marathon. But with Iowa and New Hampshire out of the way and Nevada and South Carolina coming soon (Feb. 22 and 29, respectively), candidates must kick into overdrive.

On Super Tuesday — March 3 — California and 13 other states will hold presidential primaries. They include such wide-ranging states as Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

California will offer by far the most convention delegates — 415 pledged to candidates on election day, plus 79 unpledged so-called superdelegates to be added later for a total of 494.

By the end of Super Tuesday, more than a third of all convention delegates will have been pledged nationally. And two-thirds will have been chosen by the end of March.

Californians will help decide:

• Whether Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont can remain a front-runner.

Much of the Democratic establishment — especially moderates — are having anxiety attacks over the prospect of the self-described democratic socialist carrying the party banner in November against President Trump. Sanders is too leftist for the battleground states that Democrats must carry to oust Trump, they contend.

Liberal Gov. Gavin Newsom didn’t put it that way in a recent interview on ABC’s “The View,” but he acknowledged some fellow Democratic governors are nervous.

“I was just at the National Governor’s Association, and this is not comfortable for me to say,” Newsom said, “but … there’s deep anxiety [about] what is potentially emerging as a Bernie Sanders ascendancy with the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party and the prospects … that [Michael R.] Bloomberg moves into that and you’re at a place of civil war.”

Civil war is what party primaries are all about. But what’s making party leaders and moderate Democrats anxious about Sanders is that his so-called socialist ideas could be a red flag that costs Democrats not only the presidency, but also majority control of the U.S. House.

“Bernie is the best bet to take on Trump,” Rafael Navar, California director for Sanders, asserts. “The antidote for the Trump base is equal energy on our side.”

• Whether moderate former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg can keep challenging Sanders for the lead in a large state with large populations of black and Latino voters.

There were few voters of color in Iowa and New Hampshire, where Buttigieg essentially tied for first and finished a close second, respectively.

In California, a January poll of likely voters didn’t look good for Buttigieg. He was fourth, at 7%, behind Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden in a poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. Buttigieg was favored by only 4% of Latinos and 3% of blacks. But he attracted 11% of Asians.

This survey, however, was taken before Americans actually started voting and the running positions changed dramatically. Warren and Biden stumbled badly. Buttigieg sprinted to the front. And Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar took a surprising big leap.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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