California Republicans to play critical role in presidential primary

BURLINGAME, Calif. (KGO) -- The state GOP convention is over, but now more than ever, California Republicans find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

Their votes are likely to play a critical role in the upcoming presidential primary, especially here in the Bay Area.

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California Republicans are used to being relegated to the sidelines but that likely won't be the case this year, where 172 GOP delegates are up for grabs.

GOP candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich all made appearances at this weekend's state GOP convention in Burlingame.

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They've all since left the state, but their volunteers know they'll be back.

With the delegate hunt likely to go down to the wire, get-out-the-vote efforts are in high geat, even in the dark blue Bay Area.

San Francisco resident Tom Canaday is the Bay Area regional co-chair for the Cruz campaign.

"Typically, we haven't had any influence on the outcome of the nominating process and this time we have an outsized influence, so we have every reason to get excited. We have every reason to get involved," Canaday said.

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They have an outsized influence because each of California's 53 congressional districts awards the top vote-getter three delegates, no matter how many Republicans are registered in that district.

So a Republican in San Francisco, for instance, where there are only about 30,000 registered Republicans, gets a let more say in the process than a Republican in Orange County, where there are more than 165,000 registered Republicans.

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"So there's an opportunity for someone like Ted Cruz to come in and fire up just a segment of voters, maybe just a few thousand voters in a congressional district and walk away with some delegates," ABC News Political Director Rick Klein said.

This means for Trump, winning California's June 7 primary will be no easy task.

Harmeet Dhillon is vice-chair of the California Republican Party. "It's usually sewn up by March or even February, sometimes in our nomination process but certainly in the Bay Area, we only see candidates asking us for money, not asking us for our vote. So we're pretty excited about that," he said.

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