Sen. Bernie Sanders Goes All In – Will California Be His Waterloo?

by on February 19, 2019 · 15 comments

in California

By Doug Porter / Words & Deeds / Feb. 19, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris has the inside track, but it ain’t over until the votes are counted.

As expected, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Good for him. Yay for us. His 2016 campaign inspired millions of people and transformed politics. A raft of once seemingly impossible policy proposals have become probable, should almost any Democrat win the 2020 election.

As was also expected, social media flame wars are ramping up. Since exactly nobody ever supports a candidate based on crap talking on twitter, I’m guessing the evil overlords of the plutocracy are toasting to their success in discouraging electoral participation this early in the process.

If you thought this was an off year, you were wrong. The 2020 election has begun in California. We’re roughly 10½ months aways from overseas ballots being mailed to military personnel and expatriates. A month later the first mail-in ballots for in-state voters will get dropped. (h/t to Will Rodriguez-Kennedy for the thought)

While the early media focus is already on campaigns looking to make a splash in Iowa and New Hampshire, the California primary will likely be the one determining which candidates make it into the final stretch.

Capital Weekly says the potential outcome makes us “the gorilla in the 2020 primary closet:”

Leading into California’s March 3, 2020 primary, the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina will have cast votes for a total of 155 pledged delegates.

California alone will overshadow those states with 416 pledged delegates, and a total of 495 including statewide super-delegates who can vote on a second or any subsequent ballot.

This is the largest haul of delegates and fully a third of the Super Tuesday haul. Hardly something that can be ignored by the presidential campaigns.

But wait! There are no winner-take-all rules in Democratic primaries. And in California non-Democrats can request a primary ballot. (Republicans have a closed primary.)

Here’s a short explainer, via Politico:

…Some 416 pledged delegates will be divvied up among candidates based on the primary results. Of that total, 144 will be apportioned among candidates who clear 15 percent of the vote; anyone below that threshold gets no delegates. The remaining 272 pledged delegates are divided among the state’s 53 congressional districts — but not evenly.

In 2016, on average most districts had six delegates. But Pelosi’s San Francisco-based district had nine, while the least delegate-rich district, a seat represented at the time by former Republican Rep. David Valadao, had just four.

That roughly means if a presidential candidate won 60 percent of the vote in Pelosi’s district, they would bank five delegates, whereas if they won 60 percent of the vote in Valadao’s old district, they would pocket only two.

At this moment in time, I believe Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders are the front runners. (This may change if Joe Biden enters the race.)

Harris has worked to build a firewall around the state, picking up endorsements from Gov. Gavin Newsom, the iconic labor and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, and Barbara Lee, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Other supporters include Reps. Lee, Ted Lieu, Nanette Barragan and Katie Hill, and 21 of the 28 Democrats in the state Senate.

The crowd of 20,000+ supporters turning out to hear her formal announcement was just the first step in what has been one of the more successful campaign launches I remember seeing.

Sanders has an already strong base of support in the state and those folks have worked hard to embed themselves into the Democratic Party’s infrastructure. Since 2016 the Vermont Senator has raised his profile even further, getting directly involved in fighting for higher minimum wages, preserving and expanding healthcare options, and leading a successful Senate effort opposing US involvement in the undeclared war in Yemen.  Here’s his announcement:

If a truly dominant candidate emerges (assuming Bernie or Kamala stumble or drop out)  a likely pickup would be 300 delegates. Lesser amounts would be split among perhaps a half-dozen candidates who focus on specific constituencies who dominate a handful of congressional districts. It’s been said this would be a strategy openly gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg might try in major cities around the state.

California voters will be making ballot choices after the results come in from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Two nationally televised primary debates are also scheduled for this time period.

There are a million things that can go wrong or right for any of the Democrats running for president, and just because I haven’t dropped their names here does mean they don’t have a chance in California.

I do know, no matter who comes out on top, the Democratic candidate will not be perfect. I  know beating Trump–job one in 2020–will require standing for something and a willingness to fight for what is right.

If my candidate (and I haven’t picked one yet) doesn’t win in the primaries I will support the Democratic nominee.

Finally, a blast from the past. Here’s Noam Chomsky, just a couple of weeks past the November 2016 general election.

Leftist scholar Noam Chomsky has a message for voters who refused to cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton to prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House: You made a “bad mistake.”

On both moral and practical levels, Chomsky told Al Jazeera‘s Medhi Hasan, the choice was clear.

“Do you vote against the greater evil if you don’t happen to like the other candidate?” asked Chomsky, who spoke out during the election against Trump’s candidacy—and in fact predicted his rise six years ago. “The answer to that is yes.”

With an argument similar to the one made by political scientist Adolph Reed prior to the election, Chomsky insists that voters did not have to ignore Clinton’s serious shortcomings in order to recognize Trump as the much more serious threat.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam February 19, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Betnie will split the ticket once again. May as well start planning Trump’s next inaugural festivities.


retired botanist February 19, 2019 at 5:22 pm

And the arcane rhetoric rears its head again! “Look out! Stay in lane! Don’t color outside the lines!”
So who’s your non-Trump choice, Sam, within the anoited, Democratic candidates so far? :-)


Sam February 19, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Biden, Klobuchar, Booker, Harris


retired botanist February 19, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Oh, so you’ll just wait for someone else to tell you who your choice is?


Sam February 19, 2019 at 6:09 pm

At least they are electable. I love Bernie, but he can’t beat the cheato in chief.


Jan Michael Sauer February 19, 2019 at 4:45 pm

All of the hypothetical polls before the 2016 election showed Bernie beating Trump by a wider margin than any other candidate. That seems to be forgotten. Still, Elizabeth Warren is an even better candidate. Honestly though, even Joe Biden would be a fabulous change.


Vern February 20, 2019 at 6:09 am

Time for real change:

Parker Posey & Christopher Guest!


Michael February 20, 2019 at 8:14 am

The Democrats will put Trump right back in office if they go with Sanders or Warren.

This is a historical opportunity to present a moderate candidate (Biden) and seize the presidency. I don’t see that happening.


Sam February 20, 2019 at 9:01 am

Totally agree.


rick callejon February 20, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Pat Paulsen


Vern February 20, 2019 at 2:04 pm

For whatever reason, the USA deserved Trump, at least for his single term.


Vern February 20, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Penance, if you will.


retired botanist February 20, 2019 at 2:58 pm

yeah. sigh. get ready for the rigged primaries: some can vote, some can’t, some can only vote if they are registered with a preferred party. yet another flawed system. Here we go with another year of name-calling, back stabbing and money wasting…all so we can end up with a ‘moderate” or “the lesser of two evils”, or most likely, the disgrace to his species, Trump.
But hey! let’s be loyal to the two-party process. Let’s not rock the electoral college system.


Sam February 20, 2019 at 6:34 pm

Do you have a viable solution to effectively abolish the two party system in the next 2 years?


retired botanist February 21, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Well, first I would ask “What’s up with the deadline?!” You want instant results? That’s the same argument that says “Well, we can’t stop using fossil fuel in two years so we might as well keep guzzling!” Or, “It would take years to ratify ERA, or modify the Constitution, so we might as well not promote either”. If you’re that resistant to change, why ask the question? But, so as not to monopolize posting space, I offer just this as a start:
If you aren’t resistant to change, consider the following: Actions start ‘at home”. Instead of registering with the Republican of Democratic parties, one registers as non-partisan. Doesn’t mean you wouldn’t vote Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, or Independent, it just means that, hopefully, you would vote for individuals that you feel are best qualified, rather than relying on someone else (and their $) to pick for you. It is your right to vote, so why put the selection of that short list in the hands of people you may not believe are qualified and impartial? Why affiliate with a specific party? It’s not like a religious faith, or, since we believe in the separation of church and state, it shouldn’t be. It might sound hackneyed you, but “be the change you want to see”. And that would have obvious consequences on the current state of rigged primaries.


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