Vermont senator and 2020 presidential contender Bernie Sanders drew an overflow crowd to his downtown Sacramento rally on Thursday evening, part of a multi-day swing through California as he vies for the Democratic nomination to take on President Donald Trump next year.
“I’m here this evening to ask for your help to win the Democratic primary in California,” Sanders boomed to a fired up crowd filling Cesar Chavez Plaza — a diverse mix of young people, parents with children, men and women in business attire, and retirees in wheelchairs.
But Sanders said he was also asking for more from his area supporters.
“It’s not just good enough to defeat Trump, he said. “We have to take on Wall Street. We have to take on the insurance companies. We have to take on the drug companies. We have to take on the fossil fuel industry. We have to take on the prison-industrial complex. We have to take on the military-industrial complex. We have to take on the whole damn one percent!”
Sanders’ rally marked the first time one of the top 2020 presidential candidates has held a public event in Sacramento. California Sen. Kamala Harris spoke to California Labor Federation members in April.
More events are likely ahead of California’s March 3 primary. The state is one of 14 voting on what’s known as “Super Tuesday,” giving California voters sizable clout in Democrats’ nominating process.
Earlier on Thursday, Sanders visited the town of Paradise, which was destroyed by the 2018 Camp Fire, and held a town hall in Chico, Calif. While there, the longtime lawmaker and self-described “Democratic Socialist” rolled out his version of a “Green New Deal” proposal to fight climate change, citing repercussions like the deadly wildfire that ravaged the area last year.
“Let us be clear that if we do not act together — and by that I mean not only in California, not only in America but all over the world — we will see more devastating disasters like the terrible wildfires we have seen here in Paradise,” Sanders said at the town hall.
As president, Sanders is promising to declare a national climate emergency, end fossil fuel subsidies and ban fracking, among other things. He claims the plan, which the campaign estimates would require more than $16 trillion in investments, would pay for itself over 15 years.
On Friday, Sanders will join a dozen of his 2020 primary opponents in addressing the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in San Francisco.
Polls over the last month consistently show Sanders in third place in the California primary, which takes place on March 3.
His insurgent presidential run in 2016 earned him a core base of supporters in the state. He won nearly 2.4 million votes in the primary that year, losing to Hillary Clinton 53 to 46 percent.
Sharron Harris, 60, of Sacramento was one of those Sanders voters in 2016. A longtime supporter of the senator, Harris said she appreciates that Sanders is “sincere.”
“He’s not influenced by the money,” Harris said. “He really is a champion of the people.”
But underscoring Sanders’ challenge in this campaign, another 2016 supporter at the rally Thursday said she wasn’t sure yet whether she would vote for Sanders again.
Twenty-two-year old Consuela, who gave only her first name, said she was interested in other candidates in the 2020 race, including Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
But Consuela did say it made a difference to her that Sanders has come to Sacramento to speak to residents like her.