By Phil Matier

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — From Berkeley to the Bayshore and all through the Bay Area, the Democratic presidential contest is up and running.

This week Sanders’ backers in the California Nurses Association kicked their campaign into gear with a string of billboards all across the state.

Bonnie Castillo, of the California Nurses’ Association noted that California is huge in terms of delegates and has more delegates than any other state. Plus, unlike some states the independent vote is huge, because the independents can vote in the democratic primary.

So far Clinton has pretty much just used California’s deep democratic pockets to raise money for her other state primary races. All that changed this weekend with the return of former president Bill Clinton to the campaign trail.

Former Clinton campaign manager Ace Smith masterminded Hillary Clinton’s 8-point win over Barack Obama in California in 2008 and said, “It feels very similar.”

Smith said Hillary Clinton does well all across the spectrum, but does especially well with women.

And while the polls still show Clinton with a commanding lead, Sanders is catching up.

“You know in California a couple of months ago she was ahead by 20 points,” Castillo said. Now,  according to a new KPIX5 News/SurveryUSA poll, she’s only 14 percentage points above Sanders.

“A lot of what the Clinton campaign is doing is a lot of organizing – a lot of phone calling a lot of things that aren’t necessarily tabling in the plazas,” Smith said.

California is vote-by-mail, so while the primary election isn’t until June 7th, the real fight over voters will start a lot sooner.

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