Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination for president, will come to Edison High School in Fresno on Saturday night for a campaign rally as part of her renewed effort to try to hold on to California in the face of fierce competition from Bernie Sanders.
Her campaign announced the visit on its website shortly after noon Friday. She is expected to speak at 7:30 p.m., but doors will open at 5 p.m. (Friday's announcement said doors will open at 5:30 p.m., but the time listed on the campaign website has changed.) People interested in seeing her can RSVP www.hillaryclinton.com/events.
Recent polls have shown a near-equal popularity among Californians for Clinton and Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who is running a campaign on populist ideals. While Clinton has far more delegates to win the nomination, Sanders has not dropped out and pledges to fight for the nomination all the way to the party’s convention, which starts July 25 in Philadelphia.
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The Fresno Unified School District confirmed that Clinton will speak in the school’s gym. The district billed the campaign $2,000, which includes a rental fee plus utility costs, for the event.
The rally is expected to last until 8:30 p.m. Clinton will speak in Sylmar, Oxnard and Santa Barbara on Saturday before she flies into Fresno.
This will not be Clinton’s first visit to Fresno. She was last in town in 2008, when she attended the United Farm Workers’ constitutional convention and encouraged the union to support then Democrat nominee Barack Obama in his quest for the White House.
Fresno Unified Board of Education President Luis Chavez said the district is “excited the last presidential candidate to visit Fresno has selected Edison High School.”
The district will not staff the event in any way, nor is it a sponsor.
Fresno police Capt. Andy Hall coordinated the event’s security with the U.S. Secret Service.
Hall said that 20 to 30 officers will staff the event, with additional patrol and tactical officers standing by if needed. The department also will monitor social media as a precaution.
Police will monitor several nearby gang activity hot spots, but those are always checked daily, Hall said. Police don’t anticipate gang problems.
Stop comes during heat wave
The Valley’s first summerlike heat wave could cause problems for those waiting in line during the warmest part of the day.
The National Weather Service forecasts a high of 106 degrees for Saturday. Temperatures are expected to reach 100 by 1 p.m. and stay in the triple digits until after 8 p.m., the weather service said.
Fresno fire Capt. Jeff Guynn, also the city’s emergency preparedness officer, said the Fire Department plans to staff the event with one engine company, which will work in tandem with a contracted ambulance from American Ambulance.
Guynn said a similar arrangement was used for Democratic contender Bernie Sanders when he stopped in Fresno on May 29. Guynn wasn’t sure exactly how many calls the Fire Department had, but he knows the team responded to “a couple of different medical emergencies.”
Because it will be over 105 degrees, the city will open its cooling centers. The closest one to the rally is at Frank H. Ball Neighborhood Center at 760 Mayor Ave. There are no plans to open a cooling center at the rally, Guynn said.
Guynn recommended that attendees drink lots of fluids, wear hats and sunblock, and bring water bottles to the event.
The rally is dubbed a “Get out the vote rally with Hillary Clinton” and marks the second appearance of a Clinton in Fresno in two weeks. Former President Bill Clinton campaigned on behalf of his wife on May 23 at Fresno State.
Presumptive Republican Party nominee Donald Trump came to Fresno on May 27.
‘It doesn’t get much better’
Michael Evans with the Fresno County Democratic Party said the Clinton campaign likely looks at the central San Joaquin Valley as “friendly territory,” as it is predominantly Latino and she does well with those voters.
He believes the decision to stop here could be to rally strong voter turnout given the tightening statewide polls.
Regardless of her reasoning, Evans said it has been an outstanding few weeks for local Democrats.
“We had Bill (Clinton), Bernie (Sanders) and Hillary (Clinton) within about a week of each other,” Evans said. “It doesn’t get much better than that for Democrats in Fresno County.”
Hillary Clinton coming to Fresno
When: Saturday. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Edison High School, 540 E. California Ave.
Why: To rally local Democrats. Speech starts approximately 7:30 p.m.