Biden and Warren ‘publicly snub’ California Democrats and Latinos, state party’s leader says

When California Democrats meet at the state party’s convention in Long Beach next week, they’ll be without two top presidential contenders.

Chairman Rusty Hicks announced on Twitter Tuesday night that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will join former Vice President Joe Biden in declining the party’s invitation to appear on stage for a Nov. 16 presidential forum hosted by Univision, a Spanish-language network.

Hicks chastised the candidates’ move to skip the event, calling it a “misguided decision to publicly snub California’s Democrats & Latino Voters across the nation.”

While Biden’s campaign announced its decision last month to skip the convention, Hicks broke the news on Tuesday that Warren wouldn’t be showing up, either.

The announcement comes as candidates begin to focus more of their energy on states that hold their primary election days earlier than California’s. In recent months, visits to the Golden State have been fewer and further between.

Even California Sen. Kamala Harris is pulling staff out of her home state to go “all-in on Iowa.”

Zoom in to see a city in more detail. Click on a candidate to see details of their visit
Map: Nathaniel Levine • Compiled by Bryan Anderson

Candidates have struggled to develop a winning strategy in California — a state that poses a number of challenges due to its large population, size of its media markets and complex process for awarding delegates.

Hicks will serve as one of California’s 495 delegates when Democrats select their nominee to compete against President Donald Trump in the general election.

He is upset with the lack of attention the state has received, given the party bumped up its primary to March 3, 2020 and early voting begins on Feb. 3 — the same day as the Iowa caucuses.

“Your decision is a blatant disregard and disrespect to California’s grassroots leaders who make the phone calls, knock the doors, and give the money... in swing districts and swing states alike... year after year after year,” Hicks wrote on Twitter. “It’s clear you don’t think you need us to win the Primary. But, you *just might* need us in the General. Just sayin.”

California voters will have a major role in deciding which Democrat will advance to try to unseat Trump, given they’ll select about one-tenth of the nation’s delegates.

Warren’s campaign declined to comment on its decision not to attend. The senator did speak at the party’s June convention and Democratic National Committee’s summer meetings in San Francisco in August.

Biden, however, skipped the two major California events. In lieu of the November convention, Biden’s campaign said the former vice president plans to hold a public event in Los Angeles on Nov. 14 and travel to Nevada shortly thereafter.

Hicks urged both Warren and Biden to reconsider their decision to miss the convention next weekend because “anything less is deeply disappointing.”

Univision forum

While public opinion polls have been relatively sparse in California, Warren and Biden have consistently been at the top of the pack in recent months alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

With Warren and Biden out of the picture for the November convention, Sanders will be the highest-polling candidate in attendance.

Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are at a distant fourth and fifth place in the state and will join Sanders for the forum. Buttigieg is also slated to host a fundraiser in San Diego the morning after the Univision event, with tickets starting at $25.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will also participate in the forum. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker will attend the event in place of Biden.

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who was one of the eight original invitees, accepted the offer but has since dropped out of the race. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and billionaire California activist Tom Steyer will replace O’Rourke and Warren, according to Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.