Los Angeles, California – On Tuesday, Californians will cast their ballots in the most hotly anticipated primary of the election year. A landslide victory could see Bernie Sanders potentially clinch the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton.
A damning report on the misuse of Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state, coupled with her seeming inability to convince the US at large that she is the best candidate, have resulted in nationwide popularity polls favouring Sanders to beat Republican hopeful Donald Trump, despite Clinton’s considerable lead in votes and delegates.
For Republicans, the presidential primary will be a quiet affair as presumptive nominee Trump is more or less assured of the party’s nomination.
But the Democratic primary will be closely contested between Sanders, who favours free healthcare, free education and labour regulations and has strong policies on fracking and climate change, and Clinton, whose pragmatism and experience has won her support but whose Wall Street speeches, support for free trade deals and interventionist approach to foreign policy has been criticised by some.
More than 19 million people are registered to vote in California. Al Jazeera spoke to some of them on the streets of Los Angeles and asked who they will be voting for.
|Sanders Chase, record store owner|
|Sanders Chase [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Sanders Chase owns the famous Record Collector on Melrose Avenue. Home to 500,000 records and no CDs, its aisles were once regularly walked by Michael Jackson, Nina Simone and George Carlin.
“With a name like Sanders, it’s difficult not to guess who I’m voting for.
I like Bernie Sanders because he has gravitas. Bernie is a great classical music fan, so I am extending an open invitation to him to come to my store. I will get at least 25,000 people to gather outside before June 7.
He is the only person who can lead this country.
He’s from Brooklyn, just like me, so he won’t give up. That’s not what we do.
I think he can pull it off.”
|Marlon Footracer, language specialist|
|Marlon Footracer [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Marlon Footracer comes from a reservation outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“I want Bernie Sanders to win. My mother always used to say, ‘Don’t tell me, show me’ – and that’s what he’s doing.
Because Bernie has been right about so many things in the past, I trust him. He is honest.
Why would you, if you have power, not use it to serve a common good? I love the former Uruguayan president Jose Mujica. He lived for his people and shared his income with them.
Hillary sold more arms to the Middle East than any other secretary of state. That makes me uncomfortable. Hillary supporters are very sheepish. They often have money and think Sanders is going to take it away from them, which is so not true.
I’m a member of the LGBT community, and I’m Native American … I think Bernie Sanders best represents us.”
|Monica Dabos, professor of statistics|
|Monica Dabos [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Monica Dabos lives in Santa Clarita and believes Bernie Sanders is turning the political system upside down.
“I love him.
I am a professor of statistics and statistically it will be tough, but if he gets a strong showing, he will have a Democratic platform.
Sanders is an exceptional politician and if we don’t vote for him now, we won’t have the chance to vote for someone like that in decades.
I can’t stand the superdelegates system. It is so undemocratic.
I’m shocked by how uninformed Trump voters are. Racism is rife in many areas because people are not educated.
I will vote for Hillary if it’s a means not to get Trump, but I don’t want to have to do that.”
|Genna Stock, choir teacher|
|Genna Stock [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Genna Stock has been a Hillary Clinton supporter for many decades.
“I was living in Arkansas when Bill Clinton became governor there, and I like them both. I think they’re smart people.
I want her to get in because I want to see what she can do.
I don’t think she’s as crooked as everyone makes her out to be. Everyone screws up. She’s been around the block.
I voted for her before Bernie Sanders came along. I think he’s too populist.
I’m a southern Democrat, so we’re a rare breed. I’m an artist, and its normal for an artist to be a Democrat. I don’t know that many artists who are Republicans.
I don’t like the bigoted racism that comes with Trump supporters. It’s very scary and not good for America.”
|‘Aoi’, business owner|
|Supporters watch as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives during a rally in California [Chris Carlson/AP]|
‘Aoi’ is a local business owner in West Hollywood who asked to remain anonymous.
“I’m of Japanese origin and I support Donald Trump. I know, weird, isn’t it?
I would have my photo taken, but it’s probably not a good idea. I have a business locally and have some tax issues.
I think we need Donald Trump in America. Look at the state of this country.
There’s a homeless person at every street corner in this city. The divide between rich and poor is ridiculous.
If we get Hillary, that’s just another four years of Obama. He’s a useless liberal. I hate him. A lot of people do.
We need to build up our army. Other countries must think we’re a joke. We used to be respected and feared. Now this.
Donald is not afraid to speak out. He’s anti-establishment. I like that.”
|Jeff Shettler, special education teacher|
|Jeff Shettler [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Jeff Shettler works with people with moderate to severe special needs in a town north of Los Angeles. He attended a Bernie Sanders rally outside the city.
“Bernie Sanders not only speaks to citizens of America, but also the world. He’s so inspiring.
Despite popular belief, America has been pulled to the right for the past 30 years. That has to change.
It’s so frustrating to think that Donald Trump got 240 percent more media airtime than Bernie Sanders.
Last summer, he was packing out stadiums and no one was reporting it.
Hillary Clinton is not sparking any passion. If he doesn’t make it in, I will have to vote for her. Anything but Trump.”
|Abbas D’lzubair, student and security guard|
|Abbas D’Izubair [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Abbas D’lzubair has been living in Los Angeles for six years.
“I come from a small town in northern Sudan called Dongola. It’s very different from Los Angeles.
I work as a security guard at a hotel. I have a degree from the University of Khartoum, and I am studying here in LA. I haven’t used my skills for a job here yet.
I will be voting for the first time this year, but I’m not sure who I want to vote for.
I want to vote for the person who most represents the needs of a black immigrant Muslim man.
I want someone who will take care of the people, whether they are middle-class or lower-class.”
|Joe Kiloran, restaurant worker|
|Joe Kiloran [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Joe Kiloran works at a fast food eatery in the heart of West Hollywood.
“I have 58 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. It’s a lot.
My boss is a huge Trump supporter. He has signs up above the restaurant.
We’re in the middle of West Hollywood here. Trump supporters are like hens teeth, but people still come to have our chilli dogs. They’re world famous. I don’t really want to be photographed in front of the sign though.
I will vote Hillary. I don’t know Bernie, so I won’t vote for him.
She knows the game. She’s been secretary of state and minister for health and she’s a lawyer.
I’m voting for a woman.”
|Henry Gastelum, archivist|
|Henry Gastelum [Barbara McCarthy/Al Jazeera]|
Henry Gastelum work as an archivist at a record store in West Hollywood.
“I hate Trump.
Trump wants people to think they are losing something and that they will be worse off if he isn’t elected.
He wants them to believe they will lose their guns, their money, etc … but it’s not true.
I know people are disenfranchised, but please don’t vote Trump. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s nuts.
That said, Hillary is just as bad. I don’t trust her either. Most of my friends don’t.
In Hollywood you don’t meet Trump supporters. They hide well.
There are a few Hillary voters around, but they are very quiet. I can’t wait to cast my vote on June 7. Bernie is the change this country needs.”
Source: Al Jazeera