During his swing through California, Sanders has spent some time gathering information about the conditions under which a lot of agricultural workers labor and visited a historic site where Chavez once did some of his organizing work. Sanders has also said some things about pesticide exposure, clean drinking water and low pay in the agricultural industry that those who agree or cope with these conditions firsthand like to hear.
But not everyone is impressed. The L.A. Times described Sanders's tour of California's agriculture-dominated Central Valley as "heavy with imagery of the past" and light on specifics about what he might do to elevate wages or address industrial pollution in an area of the country where agriculture provides a large volume of jobs and serves as a major economic engine.
Others are giving Sanders the benefit of the doubt.
...Hillary Clinton has consistently stood with farm workers and immigrants, fought on behalf of and voted for comprehensive immigration reform, repeatedly sponsored the UFW-negotiated AgJobs legislation as a senator, supported farm workers in their fights for union contracts and worked to end discrimination against them.The consistent respect Hillary Clinton has shown farm workers over her career, her willingness to answer tough questions, her commitment and work to end prejudice and her determination in the pursuit of progressive change have earned our support.
Sen. Sanders voted against the Kennedy-McCain bill and led the push for amendments that killed the measure because he opposed the conditions pushed by business interests for guest workers, he said during the Feb. 11 debate.
But Sen. Sanders’ opposition to abusive guest worker programs didn’t extend to a bill he cosponsored in 2011, to allow agricultural guest workers into his home state’s largest farm sector — Vermont’s dairy industry.
Sanders probably hasn't offended anybody with his copious mentions of Chavez. But Clinton has had longtime and high-level Latino political operatives on her staff with years of expertise courting and winning Latino voters. Clinton has long-standing relationships with lots of Latino elected officials and policy positions that have earned her the support of a lot of Latino voters over the course of the past few months.
In addition to that, the Republican race has put matters of race and ethnicity, the basic ability to feel safe and equal, at the center of the 2016 campaign. So, Sanders's economic-inequality-first message may have just had a harder time breaking through.
Sanders has tried different tactics before to expand his appeal among blacks and Latinos, with little to show for it. If he can do better with Latinos in California on Tuesday, Chavez might have had something to do with it.