RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — California remains a battle ground for democratic presidential candidates even though we’re less than two weeks away from the Iowa caucuses.

Tom Steyer held two campaign events in Richmond and Oakland Thursday. He has one more scheduled in San Francisco Friday night, where he will address issues affecting the Latino community.

When asked why he wasn’t in Iowa right now instead of campaigning in Richmond, Steyer said there wasn’t a lot of time left and he had to pick and choose.

He also said it was very important for him to do well in California because it is his home state.

At the Richmond event Thursday morning, her participated in a round-table discussion on reforming the criminal justice system. Ex-convicts shared their experiences and ideas to improve the prison system with Steyer.

“When I was incarcerated, I was a senior in high school. And I always had the dream of going to college,” David Carranza told the small group.

Carranza was arrested in high school and convicted of murder. Former Governor Jerry Brown commuted his life sentence. Carranza said the criminal justice system needs to do a better job of preparing inmates for life outside of their cells.

As he is applying to universities, he worries about how to pay for it.

Aside from criminal justice, Steyer plans to talk about topics during his Northern California campaign visits like the economy, immigration and housing.

“If you have a low unemployment rate, but you can’t afford to live on [what you make from] the job, is that a success? Mr. Trump would say yes. I would say no,” said Steyer.

He estimated 90 percent of Americans are still not seeing the benefits of a strong economy.

A new CNN national poll showed Steyer is still down at the bottom, well behind the front runners.

He said he does plan to return to Iowa before February 3rd.

“If you look at the four early primary and caucus states, the last poll I saw, I was at 15 percent and in third place. This is going to be a series of state votes, not a national vote,” said Steyer.

Another candidate who’s focusing on California and Super Tuesday is Michael Bloomberg.  He skipped over Iowa and the other early states entirely.

He campaigned in the Bay Area last week and got an endorsement this week from San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

“He has the heart, he has the spirit, he has a strong desire and the commitment, which he has demonstrated to make a real change. And so that’s really important to me is I want real change. I don’t want the politics. I don’t want the drama. I want someone who’s not talking about ideas that they’ve never implemented nor could they realistically,” said Breed.

She said his resume as the New York mayor won her over.  But many democratic voters say they are still undecided.

“They’ve got to work harder, and smarter, and faster to convince us who’s the best,” said Nathan Trivers, who owns the Up and Under Pub and Grill, where Steyer was holding his event in Richmond.

The ex-convicts at this round-table have their minds made up. There is one problem: they can’t vote.

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