April 24th, 2024

California Senate: Schiff advances to November election to fill Feinstein’s seat

By Michael R. Blood, The Associated Press on March 5, 2024.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff will advance to a November election to decide who will fill the U.S. Senate seat held for three decades by the late Dianne Feinstein.

It’s not yet clear who will emerge from a crowded field of contenders to take on Schiff in the fall. California puts all candidates, regardless of party, on the same primary ballot and the two who get the most votes advance to the general election.

Democrats are expected to easily hold the Senate seat in November, a relief for the party as it seeks to defend a narrow majority. But the campaign still represents a new era in California politics, which was long dominated by Feinstein and a handful of other veteran politicians.

Fellow Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, and former baseball star Steve Garvey, a Republican, are among the race’s other top contenders.

Schiff gained national attention as a leading antagonist to former President Donald Trump during his years in the White House. He was a leading voice during Trump’s two impeachments, prompting House Republicans to take the extraordinary step of censuring him after they gained control of the chamber.

That only deepened his appeal in the Democratic stronghold of California, helping Schiff become a favorite of the party’s establishment with endorsements from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, most of California’s congressional delegation and former Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

With that high-powered support, Schiff was a fundraising powerhouse, an important advantage in what became a massively expensive primary campaign.

The seat is expected to stay in Democratic hands. Republicans haven’t won a Senate race in California since 1988.

The race is California’s first open U.S. Senate contest since 2016. Even before Feinstein announced in early 2023 she would not seek re-election, many of the state’s ambitious Democrats were eagerly awaiting their shot at the coveted seat.

Garvey’s candidacy, buoyed by name recognition among older voters in particular, threw an unexpected twist into the race. The dynamic between Schiff and Porter grew increasingly tense in the campaign’s closing weeks as both vied for a general election spot.

Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, made clear from the start he intended to anchor his candidacy to his role as Trump’s chief foe in Congress. In his campaign kickoff video, he said the “biggest job of his life” was serving as impeachment manager, and he promised to continue to be a “fighter” for democracy.

Porter’s campaign has accused Schiff and his supporters of running ads intentionally spotlighting Garvey to lift the former baseball star’s profile with Republicans, on the premise that having a GOP opponent would presumably be an easier match for Schiff in the fall. Schiff has defended the ads, saying Garvey attacked him in debates and interviews and he was “not going to ignore him.”

California puts all candidates, regardless of party, on the same primary ballot and the two who get the most votes advance to the general election.

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