The Riggs Report: The California campaign begins
California GOP convention will feature all 3 presidential candidates
You can’t blame California voters for feeling overlooked or taken for granted. It’s been many years since the state’s primary election has figured prominently in the outcome of a presidential contest.
Our role typically has been as a rich source of campaign cash harvested in California, then spent in other states.
2016 is proving to be a very different story, with the level of campaigning about to gear up to levels that haven’t been seen in decades.
That’s because, on the Republican side at least, the state will be pivotal in determining whether Donald Trump can secure the party’s nomination, or whether the GOP will lurch toward an open convention this summer and an epic political brawl.
Outside the Capitol on Wednesday, a small band of Trump supporters occupied a street corner, waving signs and chanting, “It’s Trump time!”
That small rally coincided with the announcement that Trump has accepted an invitation to deliver a lunchtime address on April 29 at the state Republican Party’s convention in Burlingame.
John Kasich and Ted Cruz also previously accepted invitations to deliver remarks at that gathering.
The appearance of all three presidential candidates at a state party convention would be considered standard procedure in key early primary states like Iowa or Ohio.
In California, which is typically an afterthought in the presidential contest, it speaks volumes about the influential role the state’s voters will play this year.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will be here too.
But much of the focus will be on the Republican race, where a recent Los Angeles Times poll showed Trump with just a slight edge over Cruz among likely voters.
Because the Republicans award their delegates proportionally—three per congressional district, with a bonus of 13 delegates for the overall state winner—there will be a series of mini-campaigns across the state in coming weeks.
All three Republicans have been hiring staff and setting up ground operations in Califonia.
Once the New York primary is over next week, California becomes the top political story in the nation. Yes, the candidates will spend a lot of time here, but there will also be a bumper crop of television ads, still the only effective way to reach voters in a state this size.
This year, primary voters will be courted heavily and early. After all, voting begins May 9, when vote-by-mail ballots start to hit mailboxes.