Festive atmosphere outside the state Democratic Party convention in Long Beach. (Photo courtesy of CalMatters)

With some 5,000 California Democrats convening in Long Beach this past weekend for the party’s second convention of the year, the main event was a nationally televised forum of some of the top presidential candidates.

“Some” being the operative word. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren both declined the invitation out west. Ditto for Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Candidates barely registering in the polls such as Marianne Williamson and Reps. Joe Sestak and John Delaney arrived earlier in the morning, but did not qualify for the event. Ditto for campaign trail newcomer Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts.

Hosted by Univision and broadcast in both English and Spanish, the forum offered yet another event of the candidates to make their case — particularly to a California audience. But with the Iowa caucuses only 10 weeks away, many are running out of time to make a good impression.

That sense of pressure may have felt particularly acute for Sen. Kamala Harris. As the state’s junior senator, she receives a warm welcome at state conventions on her home turf. But for the many endorsements she’s received from state politicos and the torrent of cash from California’s donor class, her polling — in the early primary states, in California and nationally — continue to slide.

You can watch the full debate here, or check out our recap:


CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Ben Christopher, CalMatters

CALmatters