L.A. Mayor Says Kamala Harris Doesn’t Have California Locked Up

(Bloomberg) -- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Democratic U.S. Senator Kamala Harris has strong support for her presidential bid in her home state of California, but she doesn’t have it locked up as her competitors aggressively campaign there.

“Everybody’s been here,” Garcetti said in an interview, citing visits by Democratic candidates including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose rally on Saturday in front of the Los Angeles City Hall drew thousands of supporters. “California will very much be in play.”

California’s presidential primary, historically held in June, has often had less impact than those in other states because the candidate field is thinned by then. The state’s primary has been moved to March next year, which will put it immediately after the traditional early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina in early February.

As the nation’s most populous state, it also will provide the biggest trove of delegates who will decide the eventual nominee.

“California’s going to wipe out everybody’s gains in other places,” said Garcetti, 48. “It’s good that we’re not going to be just an ATM.”

Winning Record

Harris, 54, is a former two-term California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney who has never lost an election in the state, which is considered a Democratic stronghold. She’s a death penalty opponent and supporter of abortion rights who has proposed a $315 billion plan to increase pay for public-school teachers nationally.

Garcetti, a Democrat who considered running himself for the nation’s highest office this year and decided against it, said Harris has a head start in fundraising and name recognition in the state, but other candidates are also making strong showings. The Los Angeles mayor said he plans to make an endorsement in the 2020 presidential campaign but may wait until after California’s March 3 primary next year.

“I’m at the point in my career where I have such dear and close friends,” Garcetti said. “But like your average voter I want to see these people perform on the stage, literally and figuratively.”

Many national polls show former vice president Joe Biden in the lead among Democrats who have declared their candidacy or are considered likely to run, with Harris running second.

Garcetti said he was a fan of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and that there is a strong Latino voting base in California that former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke will pursue.

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