“It’s no exaggeration to say that (the Inland Empire and Central Valley) could determine the winner of the California primaries,” Karthick Ramakrishnan, a UC Riverside political science and public policy professor, wrote in a commentary posted on CNN.com.

Billionaire and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg visited Riverside on Sunday, Jan. 5, to open his first campaign field office in California. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who visited Moreno Valley in December, also has a Riverside field office.

“The Inland Empire has historically been ignored,” said Chris Masami Myers, Bloomberg’s California state director. “Mike said we’re going to reach every part of the state.”

Anna Bahr, Sanders’ California press secretary said: “The Inland Empire is essential for us.”