DemDaily: It’s Schiff v. Garvey in California Senate Contest

March 7, 2024

In California's high-profile primary race to succeed the late Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein yesterday, Congressman Adam Schiff (CD-30) and former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Garvey (R) emerged as the top two vote-getters and will now advance to the November election.

With approximately 53% of the vote reported in the "jungle," or nonpartisan blanket primary -- where all candidates, regardless of party, appear on the same ballot -- Schiff leads the field with 33.3% of the vote, followed by Garvey with 32.2% and Democratic Congresswomen Katie Porter (CD-47) and Barbara Lee (CD-12), with 13.9% and 7.5% respectively.

California is one of 34 US Senate seats up for election in 2024, 23 of which are being defended by Democrats, including three Independents who caucus with the Party. Republicans, who hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, are defending 11 seats.

California voters actually cast their ballot in two Senate elections on Tuesday:

1) Special Election: Following Feinstein's death September 19, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler as interim US Senator to fill the remainder of Feinstein's term through the 118th Congress. A special election was then called to determine the two general election opponents in November, the winner of which will serve out the final weeks of Feinstein's term from November through January 2025 when the new Senator will be sworn in.

2) Primary Election: The regularly scheduled election to determine who will be the two general election opponents in November, the winner of which will serve a regular six-year term. Schiff and Garvey prevailed in both as the top two contenders.

In the historically liberal state where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-to-1, Biden won California with 63.5% in 2020. The GOP has not won a statewide election since 2006. Democrats have held both US Senate seats for the last three decades. Feinstein, the trailblazing Grand Dame of the US Senate, was first elected to the upper chamber in 1992.

A twelve-term Congressman from San Gabriel Valley, Schiff, 63, gained national recognition as Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and as the lead prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.

Reportedly blessed by Feinstein before her passing, Schiff had the endorsements of over 30 current and past California delegation members, including Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.

A pre-primary February 24-27 Emerson College poll sponsored by The Hill and Inside California Politics had Schiff leading the field with 32%, followed by Garvey with 22%, Porter 20%, Lee 11% and five other candidates with 4% or less (MOE:+/- 3%)

Garvey, 75, is a legendary former Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player who later leveraged his popularity to form a successful communications company specializing in sports marketing and corporate branding, and ultimately, television production. He has also served as a spokesperson for several companies and gives motivational speeches.

Garvey did not enter the race until October 2023 and had raised only $2.1 million as of February 14, compared to Schiff's $31.1 million. His campaign did not spend any money on ads.

However, Garvey received a big boost from Schiff and his allies, who spent $11 million on ads attacking the Republican as “too conservative” for California. The campaign successfully drove Republican turnout and propelled Garvey to second place, surpassing Porter and Lee -- who as Democrats would be more competitive in the general election.

Porter has condemned the "onslaught of billionaires spending millions to rig this election,” defending her use of the Trumpian term as legitimate.

DemList will keep you informed.

DemDaily: The Super Tuesday Turning Point 3/6/24
DemDaily: The 2024 Presidential Primary Calendar. The Updates! 2/27/24

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Sources: Ballotpedia, NBC, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, OpenSecrets, Sacramento Bee, Deadline

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