SAN CARLOS, Calif. - Democratic presidential candidates are returning to California this weekend hoping to pick up some donations and endorsement as the state Democratic convention is held in Long Beach.
The field is becoming more crowded as a new candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick joined the field Thursday. Eighteen Democrats are now in the primary race, but only ten of the candidates have qualified to face off in Atlanta next Wednesday in the fifth primary debate.
California's early primary in March makes it a coveted prize for the crowded field of candidates who are vying to take the lead.
"California really is a force in determining national politics," said former California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who attended the grand opening of a Bernie Sanders campaign office in the Mission District.
Senator Bernie Sanders is rallying support in the Bay Area. He is expected to appear in Oakland Friday morning to get a nurses' union endorsement. More than one hundred people gathered at the campaign office that was filled with t-shirts, signs, and volunteer sign-up sheets.
"The Bay Area has the largest number of Bernie Sanders volunteers in the county. so we'll be dispatching our volunteers throughout California and the country," said Jane Kim, a former San Francisco supervisor, and the California state political director for the Bernie 2020 campaign. Kim says Bernie supporters have remained active since 2016, with some even running and winning elected offices statewide.
There were also young first-time voters who said they had supported Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign.
"I was too young to vote. I was sixteen last time he ran, but I was still in full support," said Eduardo Dominguez, a student at San Francisco State student from Salinas.
"Health care, the environment all that type of stuff, I feel he's the only one to take these issues seriously because he's been fighting so long for them," said Zelalem Berrhanu, another San Francisco State University from Sacramento.
In San Carlos, an estimated four hundred people showed up at Devil's Canyon Brewery to hear Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. She told the packed room that she's the candidate who can win over Midwestern voters in swing states to beat President Trump.
"We're going to take our fired up Democratic base, we're going to add in those independents, moderate Republicans who are sick of this guy, and we are going to build a blue wall around these states and make Donald Trump pay for it," said Sen. Klobuchar to loud applause.
For many California Democrats, it is a daunting decision, trying to settle on a favorite in a crowded primary field.
One Midwestern native Jan McDougal who lives in Mill Valley says Klobuchar resonates with her and her midwestern relatives.
"She's a smart woman from the midwest with solid values .I trust her and she has a proven record of gettign things done in a bipartisan way," said McDougal, who added that her relatives are supportive of Klobuchar, even though they did not vote for a Democrat in 2016.
"The more I"ve seen her, the more I like her but it's tough. It's a long road because you have a lot of candidates," said Tommy Gee of San Carlos who came with his wife and daughter.
The eighteenth candidate to join the race, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, filed paperwork for the New Hampshire primary and announced his campaign on social media.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg switched his affiliation from a Republican to Democrat last month for a possible run.
"I do think we have a really strong field. You're going to see it on the debate stage in Atlanta," said Klobuchar, "I was hoping we would be narrowing it down. But I guess the more the merrier."
On Saturday November 16th, the California Democratic party will host a forum from 4-6pm on Univision. Confirmed candidates include Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, and Andrew Yang.