Sanders, Harris set for showdown in delegate-rich California

FILE - In this June 1, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco. Bernie Sanders is promising to win the California presidential primary next year, but home-state Harris is preparing to defend her turf. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
FILE - In this July 26, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., leaves a rally at Santa Monica High School Memorial Greek Amphitheater in Santa Monica, Calif. Sanders is promising to win the California presidential primary next year, but home-state Sen. Kamala Harris is preparing to defend her turf. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. — Bernie Sanders has promised to win the California presidential primary, but home-state Sen. Kamala Harris is defending her turf, putting the two on a collision course in a state both see as a critical steppingstone to the White House.

Sanders' campaign advisers rank California among what they call the crucial "first five" contests and believe the Vermont senator can establish himself as the dominant Democratic candidate in the race with a strong showing.

Harris, meanwhile, has locked down endorsements from most of California's Democratic elected officials.

But investing in California remains a gamble for both. It's far from clear that the effort will be money well spent if the candidates don't place near the top in the earlier states and if their campaigns are flagging by California's March 3 primary.

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