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Adam Schiff, Steve Garvey to head to California Senate runoff – NBC Los Angeles

Adam Schiff and Steve Garvey will face off in November in the race to fill California’s Senate seat, NBC News projects.

The contest to replace Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving woman in the Senate when she died last year, had been a competition among three of the country’s leading Democrats in a state where the party has a 2-1 advantage over Republicans — before baseball star-turned-celebrity pitchman Steve Garvey entered the race as a Republican. The former player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres was a first-time candidate with few policy positions.

All of the candidates, regardless of party, went up against each other on the same primary ballot. Now the top two vote-getters move on to the general election in November.

All of the Democrats are giving up their seats in the House.

Adam Schiff, 63, became a television presence during President Donald Trump’s first impeachment when Schiff was the lead House manager or prosecutor. He also served on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

He is a sharp critic of Trump, and in a passionate speech urging Trump’s removal from office during the impeachment trial, he said, “You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before.”

Republicans, once they had control of the House, censured him for his role as a prosecutor.

The Democrats were similar on policy though Schiff, unlike Rep. Katie Porter and Rep. Barbara Lee, had not called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas but for a “humanitarian pause,” and said Israel had a right to defend itself. He has been a strong supporter of gun control and would ban assault weapons, and says his priorities include the environment, clean energy, mass transit and LGBTQ and human rights. 

Schiff spent millions in advertising, nearly double what Porter spent, according to The Associated Press, and targeted Garvey as too conservative for California. Those ads prompted Porter’s campaign to accuse Schiff of deploying a deliberate strategy of raising Garvey’s profile in the primary so he could beat Garvey easily in the general election. Schiff defended the ads, saying they were warranted because Garvey had attacked him.

No Republican has won a U.S. Senate race in California since 1988, when Pete Wilson was re-elected to the position, according to congressional records. Democratic registration is at 47% compared to 24% for Republicans. 

Among the top issues for likely voters, according to a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, are jobs and inflation, homelessness, housing, crime, and immigration. 

Feinstein had served in the U.S. Senate for three decades and was the oldest senator when she died in September at 90. She had been in declining health and had already announced that she planned to retire at the end of 2024 when her term would have been up. She had been an outspoken advocate for gun control and was known as a centrist who sought ways to work with Republicans.

Porter, 50, is a consumer advocate who has worked to hold the financial industry to account as a member of the House Financial Services Committee and the House Oversight and Reform Committee. She has focused on lowering drug prices, raising fees on polluters and closing gaps in health coverage

As a first-time candidate in 2018, Porter flipped a Republican congressional seat to become the first Democrat to represent her Orange County district. She has been re-elected twice.

She is probably most recognizable for deploying her white board during congressional hearings, questioning bank presidents and other CEOs on compensation, pricing and other topics they often would rather not answer.

Before running for office, she taught law in Nevada and Iowa and became a tenured professor of bankruptcy law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris appointed Porter the state’s independent monitor of banks during the country’s $25 billion mortgage settlement in 2012. 

Lee, 77, was first elected to Congress in 1998 in a special election, and has long been a an advocate of racial justice. She is the highest-ranking Black woman in the House Democratic leadership and is co-chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. She headed the Congressional Black Caucus from 2009 to 2011.

In the House, she is a member of the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee.

She has been a supporter of Medicare for all, canceling student debt and ending America’s war on drugs. She would establish a national cap for rent, make housing a human right, and raise the minimum wage.

She was the only member of Congress to vote against the authorization for use of military force after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and she opposed the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

During his playing days, Garvey, 75, was a 10-time All-Star, the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1974, and the National League Championship Series MVP in 1978 and 1984. After his retirement promoted such companies such as Pepsi-Cola, Chevrolet, Gillette and McDonald’s.

On his campaign website, he lists such issues as homelessness, immigration, crime, and environmental stewardship but does not offer policies to address them. He does say Israel’s right to self-defense is paramount and has said that he would not support a nationwide abortion ban.

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