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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took his 2020 presidential campaign message of fighting climate change to California on Monday, meeting with residents impacted by November's Woolsey Fire.
Inslee toured a mobile home park in the Malibu Hills area where nearly 100 homes were lost and highlighted his fight against climate change.
"Visiting the people affected by the Woolsey Fire reminds me of the work ahead," Inslee tweeted Monday. "Climate change has caused more wildfires and impacted too many lives. We need to act now on climate."
The Woolsey Fire scorched Los Angeles and Ventura counties, destroying more than 1,600 structures and leaving three people dead.
Inslee's visit to California comes on the heels of other Democratic presidential challengers coming to California to charm voters and donors. Inslee, who has made fighting climate change the central theme of his campaign, was in Iowa last week where he talked about the issue.
Democratic presidential hopefuls may have their eyes on Iowa and New Hampshire in the 2020 presidential election cycle, but California is getting more attention this time around due to its earlier primary and huge number of delegates. Over the weekend, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, held fundraiser events in Beverly Hills as she tries to boost her chances of winning the Democratic nomination.
"Because of our earlier primary, it makes California more consequential," said Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project at the University of Southern California. "It means more money, time and resources will need to be spent in California that we don't typically see when it comes to presidential primaries."
California passed a law in 2017 to move up its presidential primary to Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020, or about three months earlier than the state typically has held its primaries. The stakes in California are high for the 2020 presidential contenders because the nation's most populous state has nearly 500 delegates up for grabs and could help decide who survives and goes on to win the Democratic Party's nomination.
"California is so important because of the number of delegates," said Romero, pointing out California has nearly as many delegates as New York and Florida together. Also, she said candidates can't wait until the last minute to put together a campaign infrastructure and ground strategy in California since it's become so valuable in terms of delegate count.
Interest in California's primary is expected to grow in the coming months as the crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates jockey for more attention from voters.
Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic contender and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is scheduled to attend political events later in the week the Los Angeles area. He was in San Francisco last month talking about his long-shot run for the presidency.
Earlier this month, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio and a Democratic contender, visited Los Angeles and spoke at the University of California, Los Angeles and held a roundtable with community activists in south Los Angeles. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, meantime, visited Southern California last month and held a town hall in the community of Glendale.
For her part, presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California enjoys name recognition in her home state. But Romero said it doesn't mean she's guaranteed to win the primary.
"Harris has to survive the early states to be successful," Romero said. "And Harris isn't the only one with name recognition in California. Sen. Bernie Sanders [of Vermont] has strong name recognition in California, and a lot of Californians voted for him in 2016."