Capitol Alert

Bernie Sanders coming back to California

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the subject of an aggressive effort to lure him into the 2020 presidential race, is returning to California later this month to rally with some of his fiercest supporters.

Sanders’ visit to the tri-annual convention of the California Nurses Association-National Nurses Organizing Committee on Sept. 22 in San Francisco comes about a week after the introduction of his Medicare-for-all legislation, which has drawn support from the likes of Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, potential 2020 rivals.

While universal healthcare is emerging as a litmus test for national Democrats in 2018, the issue has roiled the state Capitol since a Sanders-backed bill saw unceremoniously sidetracked for the year by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a move that contributed to his lukewarm reception at the state Democratic convention earlier this year along with a nascent recall effort.

The nurses union, led by RoseAnn DeMoro, has predicted further efforts to target unsupportive Democrats.

Sanders has regularly visited California since barnstorming the state with a series of rallies ahead of the June 2016 primary. Later that year, he stumped for an unsuccessful ballot initiative proponents said would lower prescription drug prices. At a ceremony in Los Angeles in May, as he planned to propose his Medicare for all, single-payer legislation, Sanders urged the Legislature to pass their Senate Bill 562: “Please make my life easier,” he said.

Presidential handicappers have consistently listed Sanders among the top Democrats likely to challenge President Donald Trump in three years as polls have found him to be the most popular politician in the country. His insurgent campaign has received fresh scrutiny of late as a upcoming book by 2016 foe Hillary Clinton is opening old wounds.

Sanders will be joined at the convention by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor next year endorsed by the nurses union in large part because of his support for universal healthcare.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago