By Max Godnick & Justin Chermol

With just 522 days until the 2020 presidential election and 277 days until the California primary, 14 Democratic candidates have ventured to San Francisco to pitch themselves to the California Democratic Convention as the right candidate to challenge Donald Trump next November.

It's the largest convergence of presidential hopefuls so far this election cycle, and the largest gathering of registered Democrats second only to next year's national convention in Milwaukee.

The 2020 election cycle is a huge moment for California, as it has shifted its party primaries far earlier on the election calendar than in many previous campaigns. In most past campaign cycles, California primaries have come late, usually after candidates have won enough delegates to secure the nominations, rendering California's primary votes of little consequence.

More than 3,400 delegates are registered for the convention, representing 8.6 million registered Democrats in the state. This year’s theme ー “Blue Wave Rolling” ー is signal that the party is attempting to build on its big victory in the U.S. House during the midterm elections in 2018, especially considering the historic gains in California that saw Golden State Democrats flip seven seats, including the entirety of the former Republican bastion of Orange County.

On Sunday, the California Democratic Party will elect a new chair to lead it, replacing acting chair Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, the first Latina to lead a major party in California after stepping into the position after her predecessor, Eric Bauman, resigned late last year following allegations of sexual misconduct.

The looming open chairman's seat has inspired a spirited campaign with many contenders including Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Rusty Hicks and Bay Area activist Kimberly Ellis - as they jockey to set the state party's platform heading into a pivotal election year.

But all eyes are on the presidential candidates who will take turns giving approximately seven-minute speeches to the packed convention hall this weekend. Most of the big names running for president are in Bay Area, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and hometown favorites Senator Kamala Harris and Congressman Eric Swalwell.

The summit will have at least one notable absence courtesy of former Vice President and early 2020 front runner Joe Biden, who is skipping the event to speak instead at an event for LGBT rights in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday night. But according to [CNBC] (, the former veep is already putting together a West Coast itinerary for later this year that includes fundraising stops in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

But Biden aside - signs, pins, and t-shirts of all sizes, shapes, colors, and candidate affiliations are already beginning to wallpaper the convention center, making the city feel much more like Iowa or New Hampshire than Northern California as the state prepares to wield its influence on the 2020 campaign in full force beginning this weekend.

Roger Salazar, a spokesperson for the state party, capture a bit of the excitement in San Francisco. "Having 14 candidates here in California...telling delegates why it's important to vote for them is huge for us," he told Cheddar's Alyssa Julya Smith. "It really sets the tone for the kind of energy that we're going to bring, not just to Democratic politics in California, but across the country."