How California — yes, California — just moved to make a Trump reelection more difficult

Source: By Amber Phillips, Washington Post • Posted: Saturday, September 30, 2017

This post has been updated with news that California did move its presidential primary up. 

Politically speaking, President Trump hasn’t had to worry much about in California, one the most liberal states in the nation. But that could soon change.

The state’s Democratic-controlled legislature wrapped up its 2017 session this month by sending three bills to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) that could significantly influence Trump’s reelection chances, how closely he guards his tax returns and his ability to deliver on one of his central campaign promises — to deport more immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Here are three major moves California is making that Trump will probably want to pay attention to if he wants a second term:

1. California will now be one of the first states to vote for presidential nominees

A voter casts a ballot on Election Day in San Francisco. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)

Brown signed a bill Wednesday that would move California’s 2020 presidential primary for both parties from June to March. That means that if no other states try to leapfrog them, California could move from one of the last states to vote for party nominees to the fifth state, after Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

California has tried to move up its primary for two decades, but other states have just jumped ahead. In 2011, the state basically gave up and Brown signed a bill moving it back to June. But in 2016, the state’s Democratic voters didn’t even get a say in who won their party’s nomination. Hillary Clinton found out she had clinched the nomination over Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) hours before California voters were about to cast ballots.

“California got really frustrated last year,” said Eric Bauman, chairman of California’s Democratic Party.

How this could be trouble for Trump: A couple of ways.

Obviously, Trump wouldn’t be competing against a Democrat for votes in the primary, but what happens in California could more quickly decide which Democrat will challenge him. In 2016, 20 percent of Democratic delegates in California were up for grabs. Winning big in California could help a Democrat clinch the nomination in the spring instead of the summer. If you can wrap up the primary in the spring, you have more time to focus on taking out an incumbent president.

This move also could boost potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders from California, such as Sen. Kamala D. Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

It could also thrust issues that are more popular on the left onto the national stage. Imagine candidates hopping from the Iowa State Fair, talking ethanol, to an arts festival in Orange County, where they’re asked about their plans to combat climate change.

“The Prime Time Primary makes sure the voices of California voters are heard on the issues that matter the most to us,” state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D), the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement, “like climate change, protecting immigrants and their descendants, manufacturing and innovation jobs, and criminal justice reform.”

“Too often California is relegated to serving as a political ATM for presidential candidates,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who also led the charge to move the primary up.