Democratic presidential hopefuls are wooing Schaaf, Bonta

When Sen. Kamala Harris abruptly shut down her presidential campaign on Dec. 3 it freed many high-profile Democrats in the state and the East Bay who had supported her effort to begin looking to back other candidates.

2020 march primary logo drop shadowDemocrats such Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and Assemblymember Rob Bonta, for instance, made early, an ultimately, bad bets on Sen. Harris’ presidential campaign.

In the meantime, several top-tier Democratic presidential candidates have reached out to Schaaf for her endorsement, according to a source closed to the mayor. Campaigns for former vice-president Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have made overtures to Schaaf recently. Sen. Bernie Sanders, though, as of yet, has not, according to the source.

Schaaf was an early Harris backer and even introduced the candidate at her impressive kickoff rally in front of Oakland City Hall last January. The event attracted roughly 20,000 people to downtown Oakland and appeared to set the stage for a campaign destined for success. Problems with Harris’ message, and later, staff infighting led to the campaign to be mired with low poll numbers before pulling the plug nearly two months before the Iowa Caucus.

Bonta, who like Schaaf, was a earlier backer of Harris’ campaign, is also getting attention from Democratic presidential candidates ahead of the March primary (Vote-By-Mail ballots are sent to voters in early February).

The Warren and Sanders campaigns have reached out to Bonta recently. In addition, Sen. Cory Booker and Tom Steyer have personally asked for the assemblyman’s backing, Bonta’s re-election campaign said. But Bonta has not yet made a public announcement for who he will endorse in the March primary.

East Bay Assemblymember Bill Quirk, who represents areas in and around Hayward, appears ahead of the curve when it comes to choosing presidential candidates. At least, those likely to stay in the race past the California primary.

Quirk backed Warren’s campaign back in early October. At the time, Warren had soared to the top of the polls in California. The campaign, however, has tapered off in recent state polling, giving way to Sanders.Warren, nonetheless, is within range of the front runners. Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan also pledged her support to Warren last month during the opening of the campaign headquarters in Oakland.