Upcoming Conference | 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 10, 2019 Register

Inslee’s retail politics strategy in California

Governor Jay Inslee spent the first part of the week in California meeting with five Democratic groups during two events as part of his presidential campaign.

At the start of the week, Inslee held a town hall hosted by West LA, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu Democratic Clubs. On Tuesday, Inslee spoke and answered questions at an event in Walnut Creek organized by the Democrats of Rossmoor– the nation’s largest Democratic Club, according to Inslee’s campaign. Inslee spoke to voters about his plans to address climate change and build a clean energy economy.

Inslee’s trip to California was the lead item featured in POLITICO’s California Playbook, a briefing on politics in California. In it, the authors highlight Inslee’s focus on retail politics, a style of presidential campaigning not common in California, but increasingly important since the legislature moved the state’s primary up to March.

Inslee’s saavy schedule underscores the importance of the early California primary — doing free events in places where California voters were previously just asked for campaign checks. The stop in the upscale Walnut Creek senior community is becoming a no-brainer for many candidates; Rossmoor is a community packed with engaged, educated Boomers who not only vote religiously — they have money,” reads the Playbook.

The payoff of doing retail in California — where nearly 500 delegates are at stake in the March primary, and every congressional district represents its own jackpot — was obvious last night. ‘I can’t tell you how many people came up to me afterwards and said, “I’m a convert,”’ said Katha Hartley, the club’s president. ‘He knocked it out of the park.’”

John Wildermuth, staff reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, reported on the Walnut Creek event. He writes that Inslee admitted on Monday that the early primary was a motivation for his visits to the state.

“Inslee was in Southern California on Monday and admitted that the prospect of the state’s early primary next March has made him a regular visitor,” writes Wildermuth. 

“Anything that gives more political clout to California is a good thing for everyone in the West, Inslee said, because ‘it’s about time we had a West Coast president.’”

On the day Inslee launched his presidential campaign, Washington State Wire editor DJ Wilson, wrote about the importance of California in the primary race.

“I think the primary battleground in this primary race is California, where LA County alone will send more delegates to the 2020 Democratic Convention than 40 other states. And, in a nomination process that could well become a brokered one, given the rule changes this year, each delegate will be important,” wrote Wilson.

“He will need to spend considerable time in California working that state – working, really, all four or five state-like regions there – far more than in any other presidential election year in 40 years in order to be successful.”