Thanks to a bill that former Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in 2017, California will hold its presidential primary election in March this year rather than June, giving the 2020 Democratic candidates an earlier shot at capturing the Golden State’s nearly 500 delegates.
But U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters argues that her home state – the nation’s most populous, with nearly 40 million residents -- is still getting shortchanged when it comes to influencing which Democrat carries the party’s banner in presidential elections.
“A lot of people have come to the conclusion that it should not simply be Iowa and New Hampshire, that certainly they are not reflective of the makeup of this country,” the Los Angeles-area congreswoman told CNBC on Thursday. “And so, California has a role to play.”
Waters, 81, who has served in Congress since 1991, noted that few other states can match California when it comes to fundraising for Democratic candidates.
“We have candidates who fly out to Los Angeles from everywhere to raise money," Waters told CNBC host Kelly Evans, the Washington Free Beacon reported. “You would have two, three, four at a time in Beverly Hills having dinners and some of our contributors, who are very rich, were holding fancy parties, trying to accommodate the requests for donations and contributions.”
According to Waters, “The thinking is that if we are supplying tremendous dollars to candidates, we ought to have more say.”
“More say” was said to be the intention behind the bill that Brown signed in 2017.
“Candidates will not be able to ignore the largest, most diverse state in the nation as they seek our country's highest office," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said at the time, according to NPR. “California has been a leader time and time again on the most important issues facing our country — including immigration, education, and the environment.”
He added that the date change would “help ensure that issues important to Californians are prioritized by presidential candidates from all political parties."
Last year, state Democratic Party spokesman Roger Salazar told Fox News that the earlier primary would also help California pull the national party in a more progressive direction.
“The Democratic electorate [in California] is much more progressive than almost any state,” Salazar said at the time. “All of that is going to help bring up some of the core issues Californians care about.”
He listed the environment, health care, immigration and economic injustice as top issues among California Democrats.
That may explain why progressive candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., leads in four major California polls, according to Politico.
Ironically, Waters’ remarks about the “tremendous dollars” being donated by Californians come amid a primary battle in which some of the party faithful are accusing New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg of trying to “buy” the nomination.
Since the start of 2020, the former mayor of New York City has spent $13 million on advertising in California and opened 20 regional offices with a total of 300 staffers, Politico reported.
Bloomberg also got a head start on other candidates in California by spending time there earlier this month, after deciding to skip the Iowa and New Hampshire races.
As for who is taking the most money from California, that title belongs to former South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg, who has raised more than $9 million in the state, according to Federal Election Commission data, the outlet reported.