“You need a long runway to build and run here,” said Buffy Wicks, a state House member who ran Obama and Clinton’s winning primary campaigns in California. Wicks is something of a secret weapon for Harris: an elected official who has endorsed the senator but also brings to the campaign unrivaled experience in winning contested presidential primaries in the state.

Harris already has enlisted three-quarters of the Democrats in the state Senate — whose districts are larger than those of U.S. House members — and campaign co-chairs Gov. Gavin Newsom, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Dolores Huerta, an iconic labor leader.

And while endorsements only carry so much weight, each of those three come equipped with deep ties to various elements of the state’s donor and activist bases, including African-Americans, Latinos, progressives and organized labor. That could come in handy in a state with unique organizational challenges for presidential candidates, who have to run statewide campaigns across the country simultaneously.