It Was a Bernie Crowd at Last Day of California Convention

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks Saturday at an SEIU event before the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – California resides on the left coast.

The statement is not only cartographically correct, but indicates the Golden State’s fiercely progressive leanings as well.

The California Democratic Convention held in downtown San Francisco over the weekend demonstrated the state’s fiercely held progressive values throughout, but no more so on Sunday as Bernie Sanders was showered with boisterous cheers, whereas little known Rep. John Delaney from Maryland was all but booed off the stage as he presented himself as a moderate.

“’Medicare for All’ is not good policy and it’s not good politics,” Delaney said in a speech where he tried to summon his father’s blue collar roots as an electrician and union worker.

It didn’t work.

The congressman cut his speech short amid a choreographed wave from the crowd meant to indicate he should exit stage right or left.

In contrast, Bernie Sanders gave a speech in which he argued the only way for Democrats to beat Donald Trump next November is if they do not compromise the party’s progressive values.

“We will not defeat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into the campaign, unless we give millions of working people and young people a reason to vote and a reason to believe that politics is relevant to their lives,” Sanders told Democratic delegates who largely received the message with enthusiasm.  

Sanders constructed his speech as an affront to the type of moderation not only peddled by Delaney, who stands little chance of being the nomination, but also the positions of the frontrunner Joe Biden.

“As we all know there is a debate among presidential candidates who have spoken to you in this room and those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room about the best way forward,” Sanders said.

Biden was notably absent from the California convention, the only major candidate to forgo the event, preferring to campaign instead in Ohio.

Speculation has centered on the fact that perhaps Biden was leery of the progressive wing of California Democrats giving an unfavorable reception and if Delaney and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — both of whom preached moderation— are any indication, there wasn’t much of an appetite for such a position among attendees.

Sanders talked instead about refusing to cede middle ground in the battle against Trump, who Sanders labeled “the worst president in the history of this country.”

“We have got to make it clear, future of the planet at stake, there is no middle ground,” Sanders said, saying it was important to take on the fossil fuel industry and transform energy production in America.

He repeated the trope in terms of health care, saying Democrats need to declare access to healthcare a fundamental human right, not a privilege.

Julian Castro also spoke on Sunday, faring much better than Delaney, but not inspiring the type of passion that Sanders mustered.

Castro focused his message on education reform — from universal pre-K, to teacher pay to free state college; healthcare reform — strengthening Medicare and fighting rising prescription costs; criminal justice reform — accountability for police and tax reform to ensure the system rewards “work and not just wealth.”

“I would be a president for all Americans,” he said, helping it to fulfill its destiny as the “smartest, healthiest, the fairest and the most prosperous” country.

The three speeches punctuated an active convention that featured 14 presidential candidates and all of those leading in the polls with the aforementioned exception of Biden.

The race for the nomination is still in its infancy, but as California has moved its primary up with the aim of influencing the nominee, it was clear from the weekend’s event that those looking to pass muster in the Golden State need to burnish those progressive credentials.

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