The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The biggest base...

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The biggest base of the Democratic Party, going into this presidential contest, is California. Credit: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

The biggest base of the Democratic Party, going into this presidential contest, has to be California.

For perspective: California has 55 electoral votes, compared with New York's 29. California also has 7.9 million Democrats, New York 5.8 million.

Two years ago Jerry Brown, then the Golden State's governor, signed a bill that moves the 2020 state presidential primary to March 3. The New York primary comes April 28. This could mean a lesser impact in the multiway scrum for the nomination.

Democrats who rule the roost in Sacramento sit right alongside New York in the intergovernmental resistance to the Trump administration.

Like New York, the nation's most populous state is trying to force a tax release from Trump. A new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom states that unless a presidential candidate releases five years of federal income tax returns, he or she cannot appear on the state's primary ballot. Trump & Co. are challenging the measure in court.

New York and California have joined 20 other states in suing the Trump administration over its rollback of climate-change regulations for power plants. They claim the federal government is shirking its obligations under the Clean Air Act by watering down required reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants.

California also has stricter emissions standards for automobiles than federal EPA requirements, another point of friction.

The most emotional flash point between California and the White House may be immigration.

Last week two of its counties filed the first lawsuit against the administration's rule authorizing officials to deny entry or green cards to immigrants based on their having used assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid.

Last year, the state California Values Act took effect. It limits how much local law enforcement can cooperate with federal agents in helping to carry out deportations. Various cities have reacted differently to the law.

Significantly, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, comes out of the party's powerful state organization. She served as district attorney in San Francisco from 2004 to 2011 and state attorney general from 2011 to 2017.

She then succeeded outgoing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer to become California's third female U.S. senator.

By comparison, New York's Democratic presidential candidates, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, are nowhere near the front of the pack.

California holds yet another edge over New York in the national Democratic pecking order. Speaker Nancy Pelosi commands a majority in the House, while Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York leads only a minority in his chamber.

As much of the west coast goes, it seems, so goes the party.


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.