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Story highlights

The effort could be bolstered with the passage of the Republican health care plan

If Republican efforts fail, progressives could find new and strange bedfellows

(CNN) —  

With the future of Obamacare in doubt, leading progressive grassroots groups are turning their eyes west, where California Democrats are pushing a new bill that would create a statewide single-payer health care system.

The shifting focus is at once a concession to Republican dominance on Capitol Hill and a mark of frustration, as activists continue to clash with establishment Democrats they view as unwilling or unable to craft a compelling alternative to President Donald Trump’s agenda.

In California, progressives face a much more welcoming political environment. Trump is deeply unpopular there, and state Democrats are on the front foot, controlling both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

“There’s not many places where you can say to people, ‘If we do this work, change can occur,’ rather than, ‘If we do this work, it will lead to change one day,’” Our Revolution board chair Larry Cohen told CNN, explaining why the organization, spun off from Sen. Bernie Sanders primary campaign, chose the Golden State for its most robust outlay since Election Day.

The western front

California legislators passed a single-payer bill in 2006, but Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. Similar efforts to create a single-payer system, in which the state, rather than private insurers, pays for health care, have stalled out at earlier stages. Those efforts, however, did not have the emerging Sanders operation – with an estimated 300,000 supporters in California alone – working as an engine room dedicated to driving popular support.

The current political leadership is expected to be more welcoming this time around. Gov. Jerry Brown is a Democrat and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, one of the leading candidates to succeed Brown after he is termed out next year, recently said he planned to introduce his own universal health care program.

Organizers also point to the fight over Obamacare, and the specter of an overhaul authored by Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, as a potentially powerful motivator.

Our Revolution, still better known as the storehouse for Sanders’s coveted email list, sees the California fight as a ch