Capitol Alert

Will California voters stay home given call for Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton thanks Gov. Jerry Brown for his endorsement in Sacramento

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Sacramento, speaking to an estimated 1,800 supporters who braved sweltering temperatures to see her at Sacramento City College on Sunday, June 5, 2016.
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Hillary Clinton campaigns in Sacramento, speaking to an estimated 1,800 supporters who braved sweltering temperatures to see her at Sacramento City College on Sunday, June 5, 2016.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both pledged to press on through California’s primary Tuesday following a determination by the Associated Press that Clinton has enough delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination.

Moments after the AP settled the nomination, Clinton confirmed on Twitter she would continue with the remaining nominating contests.

“We’re flattered, @AP, but we’ve got primaries to win,” she said, listing California, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota and South Dakota, and urging voters across the six states to vote.

Sanders’ spokesman, Michael Briggs, accused the media of rushing to judgment before the states could weigh in. Sanders had previously urged major networks and news agencies not to call the nomination for Clinton before polls had closed on the West Coast.

Briggs said it’s wrong for the media to survey superdelegates and count their votes before they actually cast them at the Democratic convention this summer.

In California, stronger turnout from the presidential race could affect the U.S. Senate primary to succeed Barbara Boxer. Several other contests for Congress and the Legislature in which two Democrats hope to advance to the Nov. 8 runoff also could be affected.

Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis, said she was frustrated by Monday’s announcement, saying she expects it will reduce turnout by young voters, those 18 to 24.

“We’ll lose some, how many I don’t know,” Romero said. “It just didn’t have to be. Why do it the day before?”

Given many young people’s enthusiasm for Sanders, “this election was a unique opportunity for young people to get engaged in the political process.”

“There is a psychology behind all of this,” she said. “All we know is it sounds like it’s done. It’s an authoritative source saying that.”

In the Senate race, Attorney General Kamala Harris has maintained the lead in polls, with fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez running in second place, due in part to her strength with Latinos and younger voters.

Both of those groups tend to vote in higher numbers on Election Day, rather than by mail, as 3 million voters statewide have done so far. If polling place voters perceive the race between Clinton and Sanders as over, they could stay home.

Bill Carrick, Sanchez’s campaign strategist, said he isn’t worried about a dampening of turnout, pointing to voters’ loyalty for Sanders and Clinton.

“People are excited about the primary process,” Carrick said. “We have a surge of new registration, and I think people are going to vote tomorrow in pretty good numbers. Both campaigns have dedicated supporters who want to go express their preference for the candidate of their choice.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago Jim Miller contributed to this report.

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