Republican Steve Garvey won’t win California’s Senate race, so why is he running?

Steve Garvey is not going to be the next U.S. senator from California. 

He might do well in the upcoming March primary – and with some luck, the Republican candidate could even finish in first place in a field crowded with capable Democrats. But, to put that in terms the former Los Angeles Dodger and San Diego Padres first baseman might understand, that would be like winning his division, only to go on to face certain defeat in the playoffs.

PHOTO: RODIN ECKENROTH/GETTY

That makes Garvey’s candidacy a puzzle, but it’s a mistake to see it as a serious attempt to win office. The last time Californians sent a Republican to the Senate was in 1988, when Pete Wilson won re-election only to then vacate his seat and become the state’s governor. 

In the intervening decades, California adopted a top-two system for its statewide elections, which can dramatically affect campaign strategies. That means two candidates – irrespective of party – will emerge from the primary and compete in a runoff in November to succeed Laphonza Butler, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s replacement after Sen. Dianne Feinstein died in September. Soon after her appointment, Butler declared that she would not run for a full term, opening up the campaign to a host of contenders.

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Three Democrats command the field. By every measure, the frontrunner is U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the soft-spoken, temperamentally moderate, ideologically liberal former prosecutor perhaps best known for his work in pressing the first impeachment case against then-President Donald Trump. Schiff has raised the most money of any candidate in the race, and he leads in the polls

Schiff had long been clear about his hopes to succeed Feinstein, so his place in the campaign is expected. Less expected were the candidacies of two other credible Democrats, Reps. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter. Both are serious, well-regarded liberals – the former representing Oakland the latter Orange County. Porter jumped into the race a year ago, before Feinstein announced her plans to retire. Lee disclosed her intentions a few days later

That’s been the challenge: Lee hurts Porter, and Porter hurts Lee. Two progressive women are competing for the votes to Schiff’s left, and there just aren’t that many votes there to fight for.

One recent poll showed Schiff ahead, supported by about 21% of those surveyed, with Porter and Garvey fighting for second place and Lee trailing. 

So maybe Garvey surges over the next few weeks. Maybe the state’s Republicans rally around him – though it’s hard to see why – and push him past Porter or even past Schiff. Let’s say he lands in the No. 1 or No. 2 spot for the runoff. What then?

Does anyone really think that Lee or Porter supporters would transfer their loyalties to a Republican, retired ballplayer – much less one who confronted a marital breakdown and paternity scandal that spawned the infamous T-shirt emblazoned “Steve Garvey is not my padre.” 

The result is that Garvey’s candidacy creates froth but does not alter the fundamentals. As people hear he’s a Republican and in the race, he jumps up in the polls because he gives conservatives someone to back, and California has enough Republicans that it moves the needle on surveys and generates “shake-up” headlines.

That has real implications for Lee and Porter, but no real possibility of changing the political outcome in November. Indeed, the biggest beneficiary of all of this is Schiff, who may get the chance to face a Republican in November rather than a potentially wildfire-catching Democrat.

Garvey, those close to Schiff say, is their gift from heaven.

The other clear indicator that Garvey is not really in this race to win is the way his campaign has approached it. His website extols his history as a ballplayer and businessman, “making him a true role model for those aspiring to leadership and success.” 

He bravely takes stands against homelessness and “out-of-control inflation,” and he promises to “enforce our laws” and “invest in modernizing our military.” But he makes no effort to explain how he would address any of these problems. He has rationed interviews, confining himself to bland statements distancing himself from Trump, and limited his public appearances. 

He is dodging attention instead of courting it. It almost goes without saying that his campaign did not return repeated interview requests for this column.

What that amounts to is that Garvey is running a campaign of vanity and self-regard. It may make sense as a matter of self-promotion, a way to raise his profile or get some airtime on Fox News. But it’s not a genuine attempt to engage issues and offer solutions that might actually help Californians.

Click here to read the full article in the Desert Sun

Schiff takes a narrow lead in U.S. Senate race

Rep. Porter, former Dodger Garvey are in a tight contest to also advance to general election, poll shows.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) speaking during the House select committee hearing on the January 6th attack on the Capitol, July 27th, 2021 JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/AP


The fight for second place in California’s U.S. Senate race between Rep. Katie Porter and former Dodgers star Steve Garvey appears volatile as the March 5 primary approaches, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by The Times.

Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank leads the field by 4 percentage points in a race that thus far has lacked much sizzle, though that could change now that the candidates have launched political ad campaigns and are set to clash in a trio of televised debates over the next two months.

According to the survey, Porter (D-Irvine) trails slightly behind Schiff and holds a narrow lead for second place over Garvey, the top Republican in the race.

Schiff is backed by 21% of likely voters, compared with 17% supporting Porter and 13% for Garvey. Schiff and Porter were essentially tied in Berkeley’s poll in October.

The other top Democrat in the race, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, was supported by 9% of likely voters, the poll found. About a fifth of the voters surveyed picked one of the 23 other candidates on the crowded ballot, and the remainder said they were undecided

The top two vote-getters, regardless of party and share of the vote, will compete against each other in November. Given the Democrats’ huge registration advantage in the state, if Garvey advanced to the general election he’d be at a sizable disadvantage.

The poll also showed how divisions among voters over the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza are having an effect on the contest.

Voters will be asked to vote on two separate Senate elections on the March ballot — one for the full six-year Senate term starting in January and the other for the remaining months of the term of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

In that second race, only seven candidates are listed, and the poll found tighter margins. Schiff still leads among likely voters with 21% support. Porter has 18%, Garvey has 17%, Lee has 12% and Republican Eric Early has 11%.

The contrast between the two races shows that when the number of candidates — particularly Republicans— consolidates, Garvey’s support grows, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies poll and a longtime California pollster.

That offers evidence that Garvey has the opportunity to finish in the top two in the March primary and qualify for the November general election, rather than having two Democrats meeting in the fall, DiCamillo said.

“The open question really is who’s going to be second, and our poll is showing Katie Porter still ahead of Garvey, although there has been movement toward Garvey in each of our polls,” he said.

“There’s an opportunity for him to coalesce the Republican votes to come his way, certainly. I think the debate will help in that regard.”

Garvey’s support has nearly doubled since Berkeley’s poll in August, while Porter’s numbers have remained about the same.

The poll found that of the four top candidates, Schiff was the only one whom a majority of likely voters knew enough about to have an impression. Schiff, a ubiquitous guest on cable news shows, captured the national spotlight when he led the first impeachment trial of then-President Trump.

About 43% of likely voters had a favorable view and 31% an unfavorable view of Schiff. He’s popular among Democrats (67% have a favorable view) and unpopular among Republicans (68% have an unfavorable view).

Porter is less well known but still popular, with 39% of likely voters saying they had a favorable impression of her. Just 16% said they had an unfavorable impression of her. The rest had no opinion.

Garvey, who officially entered the race in October, wants to leverage his fame among older sports fans. The 74-year-old played for the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, but he hasn’t taken the field since the 1980s. He’s viewed favorably among 24% of likely voters and unfavorably by 21%. The rest had no opinion of him.

Schiff’s small lead is fueled in part by his ability over the last few months to increase his backing in voter-rich Los Angeles County. In the October poll, Porter led by 4 percentage points on Schiff’s turf (22%-18%); now he is up by the same margin in the county (23%-19%). Schiff also leads by large margins in the Bay Area, Central Valley and Sacramento regions.

Porter is up by 12 percentage points (24%-12%) at home in Orange County, while the two are essentially tied in the Inland Empire and the San Diego region.

The most potent political issue of the moment — the Israel-Hamas war— shows the very different coalitions backing each of the major candidates. Schiff has been a vocal backer of Israel and President Biden’s strategy in the region. Both Schiff and Garvey say that the United States should continue military aid to Israel.

Both Lee and Porter back a cease-fire. Lee opposes providing further military aid to Israel, and Porter has called for a “robust discussion” about military assistance.

Schiff supporters were far more likely to approve of Biden’s response to the war than Garvey or Lee supporters. Porter backers were split down the middle about how they felt about Biden’s diplomatic response in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.

About 8 in 10 supporters of Garvey were more sympathetic to Israel than the Palestinians, while Lee backers are sympathetic to the Palestinians by more than 2 to 1.

About half of Schiff supporters and 40% of Porter backers said they were equally sympathetic to both sides of the conflict.

The coalitions supporting each candidate have shifted slightly in recent months.

Porter still garners the most support from voters under 50 and those who identify as strongly liberal. Schiff is ahead with voters 65 and older and those who identify as somewhat liberal. Schiff and Porter had been essentially tied in October among voters who identify as Democrats. Now Schiff leads by 10 percentage points among that very large voting bloc.

Lee, who is one of three Black members of Congress from California, had been leading among Black voters statewide but now is essentially tied with Schiff — who leads with Asian American Pacific Islander voters and white voters. Schiff and Porter are essentially tied among Latino voters.

One remaining big unknown is how voters respond to the barrage of television advertising that is about to start in the state.

It’s hard to assess the true political strength of any candidate in California until they start running TV ads, said Republican strategist Mike Murphy, who worked on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign team.

Porter is “starting her TV imminently. Schiff will be right behind her by a few days. He’ll probably have more, but she’s got more charisma. So there’s a little more rocket fuel there if she catches on,” Murphy said.

“The Democratic campaigns are obsessed with Garvey. That’s not because they care about [Garvey winning in] November. If he comes in second, Schiff just won the lottery.”

Both Porter and Schiff have begun or will begin airing ads on cable and broadcast television in Bay Area-San Jose and Oakland markets this week.

Schiff’s ad focuses on some of his accomplishments in Congress. Porter’s ad is focused on how she plans “to shake up the Senate” by banning earmarks, abolishing the filibuster and prohibiting senators from trading individual stocks, among other proposals.

A Schiff spokeswoman said the campaign put “over $700,000” into its ad, while the Porter campaign told the San Francisco Chronicle it made a “seven-figure ad buy.”

Schiff has a significant financial advantage over his competitors. Last week his campaign revealed that it had $35 million on hand after the last fundraising quarter, as of the end of the year.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Garvey and Policies: Where The Senate Candidate Stands On Issues At The Beginning Of 2024

The quiet candidate finally began making major appearances just last month

Senate candidate Steve Garvey (Photo: Garvey for Senate)


For most of his campaign since entering the race in October, U.S. Senate candidate and former MLB baseball player Steve Garvey (R) remained largely quiet and preferred to just make a few select appearances outside his Palm Desert home. His thoughts and stances on many issues continued to be a mystery, being a self-declared “moderate Republican” giving few hints on where he aligned himself.

In comparison, the big three Democrats of the race, Congressional members Adam Schiff (D-CA), Katie Porter (D-CA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) have travelled all across the state and have made their stances on multiple issues known, including on inter-party divisive issues such where they stand on the Israel-Hamas war. But, with Garvey surging in the polls in December, and finding himself now in second-place in the primaries, he finally changed tune.

Throughout December, Garvey finally began to give more formal interviews, traveling more and making speeches on location, such as discussing the environment by the shores of the Salton Sea, and even visiting the U.S.-Mexico border. With a narrow lead over Porter for second in polling, and a more traditional campaign awaiting him in the first few months of 2024, where exactly Garvey falls on issues will make-or-break him in the primary. Many Republicans want to see more of a conservative stance. Moderates, as well as disaffected Democrats, want to see a more middle-of-the-road approach. Still others are focusing on one issue, with crime, homelessness, and the economy being big one-issue favorites.

With Garvey’s positions and plans continuing to emerge, the Globe looked into past interviews, newer interviews from outlets such as Fox and KTLA, as well as recent speeches and what he says on his campaign site to help zero in on where he currently stands as well as where he will be going on in the next few months.

Economy

“The challenges of hardworking Californians getting up every day and knowing that, under our economy now and inflation, that by the time the month’s over, they could be losing seven, eight, $900. And that’s when they’re even managing their daily lives well,” said Garvey last month. “The food and the gas and education for their children, clothing, all of these things are due to inflation that’s risen so much that it’s tough to stay above water.

“What I’ll focus on is getting back to a free market, capitalism, that will target small businesses. You know, there’s so many people that want to start businesses and small market businesses. Small businesses are the foundation of the business world, especially here in California. So many of those people who wanted to start small businesses have left California.

“Let’s be focused strictly on providing an economy for mom and dad with two children and two jobs, that’s going to allow them to save money, to be able to save for the future, to be able to provide their kids with the best schools available. I go to the gas station at 7:30 a.m. and there will be all the trucks there of the hardworking men and women. They’re not buying 10 gallons worth of gas anymore. They’re buying $10 worth of gas. Food is up 30 to 40 percent. So, at the end of the month, you’re down $800-900, and you worked as hard as you possibly could.

“What we need to do is stimulate the economy, free market capitalism. Let’s cut back on these entitlements, let’s stop printing money. Let’s put money back into the country, into the men and women who have paid their taxes, who deserve to get the benefits of their hard-earned money.”

His website also specifically states that “For the first time in history, more people are leaving California because they can’t afford to live in our great state. This is a direct result of our career politicians in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. continuously passing foolish laws and increasing taxes and fees, resulting in higher costs for our basic needs, such as food, gas, and shelter.

“By allowing the cost of living crisis to explode, we have failed our middle class and working families from experiencing the California dream. I will take a stand against out-of-control inflation and be a voice for the middle class and working families that are the backbone of our state.”

Crime

“Crime is just glaring here in California,” explained Garvey. “These steal-and-smash mobs that are going around are something that started in the last year or two. Not only is it about thievery, it’s about danger to people.

California’s hardworking police and sheriffs who are committed to serving the people and providing peace are putting their lives on the line, taking these criminals to the jails and getting them registered and doing the paperwork and looking out the window and seeing them walk through the parking lot because the DAs have let them go.”

“And it’s not just the streets of downtown and in other areas closer to town. It’s neighborhoods where people have to really question whether they can go out and walk at night or maybe sometimes in the daytime.

“For too long Sacramento has gambled the future of our communities with misguided laws. We need to return to common-sense policies that hold criminals accountable, protect our victims, and places the safety of our families before politics. Our police departments need to be funded, our communities need to be engaged, and we must do all we can to make sure our neighborhoods and schools are safe. Make no mistake, the best way to deter crime is to enforce our laws.”

Homelessness

“It’s important to understand what pathways those living on the streets have to being able to reconnect their lives when you know they’re going through physical, mental and spiritual challenges. I think we also have to deeply consider our own citizens who have to be protected on the streets. I think the best way to do it is start to develop programs that will get the homeless off the streets into a warm, secure area that’s going to be able to give them the psychological, physical and mental reunion with society.

“A lot of these homeless people are veterans. One of my focuses is gonna be getting back to taking care of these veterans, men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country, and not dismiss them once they’re out of service or trying to get back into society.

“There’s no greater failure for today’s California than the homelessness crisis. Hundreds of thousands are suffering and dying on the streets. Career politicians dodge responsibility and shift the blame to others. We must get real about addressing the underlying causes of homelessness, including health and drug addiction. We can solve this problem with accountability and compassion.”

Education

On his site, Garvey said, “A quality education is the single most powerful tool we can provide for the future generations. Unfortunately, in California, we have failed to live up to that promise and have accepted failing public schools that do not prepare our kids to succeed.

“We know how to fix the problem. The solutions are simple. We must empower parents and teachers who know what’s best for their children and students. We need to put the interest of all students first. We must give them a first-class education and teach them how to succeed. We must provide parents with more choices, reward great teachers, and bring back important trade skills to our education system. We must work together to make sure our schools are the best they can possibly be.”

In a recent speech, he added that “Parents are feeling that they’re not able to provide safety and a pathway for their children to be educated adults so that they can go out in the world and be productive. I think we need to get back to education that gets to core issues – core issues of preparing our children and getting away from social issues that have the tendency to confuse our children.”

Environment

While Garvey has gotten into alternative energy and broader parts of environmental regulations, a big part of his speaking points so far has been around the Salton Sea in southern California.

“People first. The ecology and environment second, and then the development of a potentially vast resource for building of batteries and eventually cleaner energy. Living in the Coachella Valley, I learned a lot about the ever-shrinking level of the lake and the increased salinization.

“For me, it’s making sure whatever is done here protects the people. The silt is blown south into Imperial County and west into the Coachella Valley. Make sure first, we protect the people, then look at the ecology and environment, then look at the geothermal growth here, the harvesting so to speak of the brine where the lithium comes from and the potential for this to be a tremendous resource.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Porter, Schiff lead in poll for SenatePorter, Schiff

They appear headed to a runoff if rivals for Feinstein’s seat don’t gain traction soon.

Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Katie Porter are in nearly a dead heat in California’s U.S. Senate race, well-positioned to move ahead to a runoff, a new poll shows.

The two well-funded House Democrats have been pacing the field since the beginning of the year. Other candidates, including fellow Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee and Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey, have so far not shown an ability to make the race more broadly competitive.

Porter, of Irvine, holds 17% support among voters likely to cast ballots in the March primary, and Schiff, of Burbank, is at 16%, in the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times. Garvey comes in at 10% and Lee, of Oakland, has 9%, the poll found.

The poll standings represent a slight improvement for Lee and Garvey since the last Berkeley IGS poll, in August, while support for Schiff has declined slightly. But the shifts are all close to the poll’s margin of error, and none have changed the overall shape of the race. About 3 in 10 likely voters remain undecided.

Under California’s system, the top two finishers in March, regardless of party, will move forward to the general election runoff in November. The poll suggests that runoff will feature two Democrats, which was the case in the last election for this Senate seat, in 2018, when Sen. Dianne Feinsteindefeated fellow Democrat Kevin de León. The seat is currently held by Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom after Feinstein’s Sept. 29 death but is not running for election to a full term.

“I think Lee and Garvey are the ones to watch in the second tier. Are any of them going to be able to get a little higher breakthrough to be the third possible candidate?” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley poll and a longtime California pollster. “Lee’s problem is she’s just not very well-known outside the Bay Area,” he said, noting that she faces the challenge of “broadening her appeal” to a statewide constituency.

The coalitions supporting each candidate have stayed roughly constant in recent months: Porter garners more support from younger voters and those who identify as strongly liberal. Voters under 50 favor her over Schiff by more than a dozen percentage points, and she leads among people who identify as strongly liberal by 15 percentage points.

Schiff is ahead with voters 65 and older and those who identify as somewhat liberal. The two are essentially tied among voters who identify as Democrats.

Lee, one of three Black members of Congress from California, now leads among Black voters statewide, which was not the case earlier in the campaign.

Porter, Schiff and Lee have been crisscrossing the state, attending forums hosted by unions and advocacy groups, holding fundraisers and doing small town hall meetings with voters. But the near-even division between the two parties in the House has often kept all three in Washington so as not to miss votes. Consequently, most campaigning occurs when the chamber is in recess.

Geographically, Porter leads in Orange County, with 21% support from likely voters, while Garvey gets 15% support and Schiff 14%. Porter also leads Schiff by 6 points in voter-rich Los Angeles County (22% to 18%), and the two are essentially tied in the Central Valley and San Diego County.

Lee polls better among voters in the Bay Area than elsewhere. The three Democrats are closely bunched together there — Schiff with 19% support, Lee with 18% and Porter with 16%.

Garvey’s poor performance in the Bay Area is likely due to the region’s deeply liberal identity, but his 4% support there could also indicate that his main draw as a candidate — his years of playing for the Dodgers — doesn’t help him in Northern California, DiCamillo said.

Statewide, however, one possible hope for Garvey is that the undecided voters in the race tend to be more conservative and more likely to be Republicans than the overall electorate, suggesting that he may have some room to expand his support.

To get into the runoff, however, Garvey would have to consolidate most of the vote from the state’s Republican minority. That’s difficult with two other Republicans in the race — attorney Eric Early and businessman James Bradley.

Garvey, who twice voted for former President Trump, has told supporters he will focus his campaign on quality-of-life issues such as education, the cost of living, housing affordability, crime and homelessness. He leads the poll among voters who identify as conservative.

The poll shows that the Senate race is not yet top of mind for many voters. Nearly half of likely voters have no opinion of Porter, for example. Similarly, about half don’t know enough about Lee to render an opinion, and 58% said they don’t know enough about Garvey.

Likely owing to his prominent role in the Trump impeachments, Schiff is better-known, with just 31% of voters saying they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion. But Schiff is also more polarizing: 40% of likely voters said they had a favorable view of him, and 29% had an unfavorable view. In Porter’s case, 38% had a favorable view and 17% had an unfavorable view.

Democratic consultant Bill Carrick said that as primary grows closer, Schiff’s monumental fundraising advantage will likely begin to have an impact on polls.

Schiff has about $32 million in cash on hand, according to his latest financial disclosure report. That will translate into far more television and radio advertising than his rivals can afford. Porter reported the second-most cash on hand, with $12 million at the last fundraising deadline. The other candidates lag far behind in the money race.

California is famously difficult to campaign in, owing to the size of its media markets and the huge cost of buying airtime. Schiff launched a digital advertisement this week, but none of the candidates have advertised on television yet.

The Berkeley-Times poll surveyed likely voters about which outlets they rely on for news and how that may relate to their candidate preferences. Local television and radio news remains far and away the most common way voters learn about the candidates, with 85% reporting they use them. Among likely voters, 58% said they turn to CNN and MSNBC to get up to speed on the race. The majority of the voters who rely on those two outlets identify as Democrats.

The next three most popular sources were Google and other internet search engines, 43%; local or regional newspapers, online or in print, 38%; and government voter guides, 37%. The three sources were also favored more by Democrats than Republicans in the poll.

About a fifth of likely voters said they received information on the race from Fox News. The vast majority of them identified as Republicans.

Still, the primacy of television and radio made Carrick believe Schiff might have an advantage.

“I think the rubber meets the road when he starts buying broadcast and cable,” Carrick said, adding: “That may be an advantage that he has much earlier.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Garvey Tosses His Bat Into the Ring

Former Dodgers star, a Republican, plans to announce a bid for the Senate seat once held by Dianne Feinstein.

After nearly two decades of statewide Republican candidates being rejected by California’s left-leaning electorate, former Dodger All-Star Steve Garvey hopes to drag the GOP back toward political relevance.

Garvey plans to announce Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Dianne Feinstein, a gambit by a political newcomer banking on his baseball fame and affable demeanor to overcome the long odds Republicans face in this solidly Democratic state. At the very least, Garvey offers GOP voters a dash of celebrity excitement and his candidacy may raise the stakes for the top-shelf Democratic candidates.

Though he hasn’t stepped on a baseball field as a player for more than three decades, Garvey may possess enough star appeal to consolidate California’s GOP vote and lure enough admiring baseball fans to wind up on the November ballot. If so, only one of the three formidable Democrats currently in the running may survive past the March primary and emerge as the heavy favorite in the face-off against Garvey.

Garvey, 74, has been talking to party leaders and donors for months about a potential bid because of growing concerns about dysfunction in the nation’s capital, and he said he decided to make it official after “a Giants fan came up to me and said, ‘Garvey, I hate the Dodgers, but I’ll vote for you.’ ”

“In those 20 years that I played for the Dodgers and the Padres, played up in cold Candlestick Park, I never played for Democrats or Republicans or independents,” Garvey told The Times. “I played for all the fans, and I’m running for all the people.”

His announcement came days after Feinstein, a trail-blazing Democrat who represented California in the Senate for more than three decades, was laid to rest after a somber memorial in her hometown of San Francisco. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed longtime labor leader, abortion-rights advocate and Democratic strategist Laphonza Butler to fill the vacancy.

It’s unknown if Butler, 44, will run for the Senate seat in the 2024 election, which quickly became a heated contest among prominent California Democrats — Reps. Barbara Lee of Oakland, Katie Porter of Irvine and Adam Schiff of Burbank — after Feinstein announced earlier this year that she would not seek another term.

Garvey, who lives in Palm Desert, has flirted with politics for decades but has never mounted a campaign for public office. As he weighed a Senate bid this year, Garvey told supporters that he planned to focus his campaign on quality-of-life issues such as education, the cost of living, housing affordability, crime and homelessness — topics that could have bipartisan appeal.

“I think about families that get up each day and address all these issues,” he said.

Garvey is arguably the most well-known Republican to mount a statewide campaign since Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who ran for governor during the unsuccessful effort to recall Newsom in 2021, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an international movie star who won office in the 2003 gubernatorial recall and was reelected in 2006.

The only other prominent GOP candidates to make it to the general election ballot in recent years are billionaire Meg Whitman, the former EBay chief who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and is now President Biden’s ambassador to Kenya, and former Hewlett-Packard leader Carly Fiorina, a multimillionaire who lost a Senate bid the same year and a presidential effort six years later.

The first baseman played for the Dodgers from 1969 to 1982 and for the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 1987 — major league teams in two of the biggest media markets in the state. Garvey won a World Series title with the Dodgers in 1981, was a 10-time National League All-Star and won four Gold Glove awards.

Garvey had a squeaky clean reputation that later was marred by revelations that he fathered children with two women after a bitter divorce. It’s unclear how those past controversies will affect his appeal among voters given that they occurred decades ago. Since that time, the country elected two presidents accused of infidelity, including Donald Trump, who had a well-known history of affairs and has faced allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct.

Garvey’s greatest obstacles, however, may be his party affiliation and his political views, neither of which align with many Californians’.

Garvey said he twice voted for Trump. He doesn’t have an opinion on who is responsible for the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He opposes abortion but said he would respect Californians’ views on the matter and would not vote for federal legislation that restricted abortion rights. Asked about controversial decisions by some school districts that would require parents to be informed if their child showed signs of gender nonconformity, Garvey said it was a parental rights issue.

Garvey is leaning heavily into his baseball history in hopes of convincing voters who may not agree with his politics. His introductory campaign video, which runs more than one minute, features heroic video and images of him hitting home runs and rounding the bases, and memorabilia from his days on the diamond. His campaign logo features the stylized image of a baseball player wearing a Garvey jersey swinging a bat.

“There are a lot of people who know who I am. And now for the next five months, I’ll be reigniting that relationship we have,” he said.

Athletes running for office have a mixed record of success across the country. Basketball players Bill Bradley and Kevin Johnson were elected New Jersey senator and Sacramento mayor, respectively. Professional wrestler Jesse Ventura became governor of Minnesota. Football player Jack Kemp represented New York in Congress. Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who is holding up hundreds of military promotions and nominations in his controversial attempt to change Pentagon abortion policy, is a former football coach at Auburn University.

But others have failed, including football player Herschel Walker in a 2022 Senate race in Georgia, and Jenner, who appeared on the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” reality show.

Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarznegger’s former deputy chief of staff who now represents high-profile athletes such as LeBron James and Maria Sharapova, predicted that Garvey would land in the latter category.

“First of all, to win as a Republican in California, you need a level of celebrity that is far greater than a baseball player from the ’80s,” Mendelsohn said. “It is a competitive advantage to raise some money and get some media. But it is completely delusional to think a conservative Republican can win in California regardless of what sport they played and how good they were.”

The chances of any Republican winning statewide office are slim given the state’s electoral tilt — no GOP candidate has won statewide since 2006 and Democrats currently outnumber Republican voters nearly 2 to 1, according to the secretary of state’s office.

And a poll taken more than a month before Garvey announced his bid was not promising. Garvey and Republican businessman James Bradley had the support of 7% of likely voters in the September survey by UC Berkeley and The Times. Attorney Eric Early, a perennial GOP candidate, had the support of 5%.

Schiff and Porter had the backing of 20% and 17% of likely voters, respectively, the poll found. The other prominent Democratic opponent, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, had the support of 7%.

Democrats are doubtful that Garvey will affect the outcome of the race, given California’s left-leaning electorate.

“It’s a steep hill,” said Rose Kapolczynski, a veteran Democratic strategist. “Steve Garvey isn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger, and any Republican who would be competitive in a Senate race would have to have a powerful brand already — and that’s what Schwarzenegger had. And Schwarzenegger’s personal brand outweighed the Republican brand.”

“I am skeptical that’s the case” with Garvey, she added.

While 26 candidates have filed to run for the Senate seat as of Oct. 9, according to the Federal Election Commission, the three most prominent — and those who have raised substantive money — are Democratic members of Congress: Schiff, Porter and Lee.

Regardless of his overall prospects, Garvey’s entry into the Senate race could have a significant effect on the election because of the state’s “top-two” primary system, in which the two candidates who receive the most votes in the March primary move on to the general election regardless of party.

The September Berkeley poll found that support from Democratic voters splintered among Schiff, Porter and Lee, possibly clearing a path for a consensus Republican candidate to finish in the top two. Garvey already had the most support among Republican voters and had yet to officially enter the race.

It’s happened before. Relatively unknown Republican businessman John Cox received more votes in the 2018 California governor’s primary election than two Democratic heavyweights — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang — only to be trounced by Gavin Newsom in the general election. Cox consolidated the GOP vote because of a weak Republican field and after being endorsed by then-President Trump.

Even though his playing days are long over, Garvey’s baseball fame will probably receive national and statewide media attention, especially on Fox News and other conservative outlets that have been critical of California’s Democratic leadership on homelessness, crime and immigration.

Thus far, the other Republicans in the 2024 Senate race lack that potential sway, increasing Garvey’s ability to emerge as the candidate of choice among the state’s GOP voters.

“He adds a fun element,” said veteran GOP strategist Kevin Spillane. “Garvey adds an element of cheer, if you will. At least his candidacy will add some fun for Republicans. I think most people understand he doesn’t have a chance to win. But he will give it the old college try and definitely make it a more interesting race.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California Gov. Newsom Will Pick Feinstein’s Replacement. He Pledged in Past to Choose a Black woman

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Democrats’ fragile majority in the U.S. Senate puts extra pressure on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to quickly pick a replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein following her death, a fraught decision for a two-term governor with national ambitions of his own.

The Democratic governor had promised to appoint a Black woman in 2021 as concerns grew about Feinstein’s declining health. He also has said he would avoid the field of candidates already campaigning for the post, which will be on the ballot next year and includes Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the state’s most prominent Black women currently serving in elected office.

In the hours after Feinstein’s death, Newsom quickly faced calls to honor his commitment, with some leaders calling on him specifically to name Lee to the post, a reminder of the fraught dynamic Newsom faces with a key Democratic constituency.

Aimee Allison, who founded She the People, a political advocacy network for women of color, said in a statement that “there is no clearer choice for this appointment than Rep. Lee.”

Newsom’s political allies and advisers were largely quiet Friday about the governor’s thinking, and Newsom avoided any public appearances that would surely result in questions about his impending choice.

It’s not his first time selecting a U.S. senator, after being tasked with choosing a replacement for Kamala Harris when she was elected vice president. It was one of a string of appointments Newsom made in late 2020 and early 2021, a power that gave him kingmaker status among the state’s ambitious Democrats.

But finding a replacement for Feinstein is a less desirable task and one Newsom has openly said he did not want.

Newsom has the sole authority to name a successor. He could even pick himself, though that is unlikely. He could also call a special election, but he’s not expected to do that. He sidestepped the issue in a statement marking her death Friday.

“Dianne Feinstein was many things — a powerful, trailblazing U.S. Senator; an early voice for gun control; a leader in times of tragedy and chaos. But to me, she was a dear friend, a lifelong mentor, and a role model not only for me, but to my wife and daughters for what a powerful, effective leader looks like.”

On Capitol Hill, Feinstein’s death leaves Senate Democrats with no margin for error until a successor is appointed.

Democrats now have a functional majority of just 50 seats in the Senate, while Republicans hold 49. At the same time, many Democrats are calling for the resignation of the indicted Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., although the embattled Democrat has vowed not to step down.

And while Democrats continue to control Congress’ upper chamber, Feinstein’s absence will make it harder to advance Biden’s judge nominees in the Judiciary Committee.

For Newsom, any choice he makes risks alienating key allies at home, including those he would need for a future national campaign.

Should he follow through on his pledge to avoid picking from those already running in the Senate primary, he could select a true caretaker who would be replaced by whomever voters select in next year’s election. A handful of Black women in office have been floated as possibilities, including Secretary of State Shirley Weber and Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

But Lee and others lashed out at Newsom earlier in the month after he indicated he would select a caretaker instead of picking from the current slate of candidates.

“The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election,” Lee posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

That was echoed by Allison of She the People, who said, “Black women are not mere caretakers, but the voting and organizing center of the national Democratic Party.”

Lee on Friday posted that Feinstein was “a champion for our state, and served as the voice of a political revolution for women.” She did not address the open seat.

Some California Democrats are still upset about Newsom’s last Senate appointment.

He chose Alex Padilla, then California’s secretary of state and a personal friend, to replace Harris. That process took more than six weeks. That made Padilla California’s first Latino senator, but it also left the Senate without a Black woman.

He later promised that if Feinstein’s seat became vacant, he would choose a Black woman to replace her.

In a recent interview with Fox 11 TV in Los Angeles, Newsom said he was being swamped with recommendations for how to fill a possible Senate vacancy.

The decision for Newsom is clouded by his personal relationship with the late senator.

Newsom, whose father was a prominent judge in San Francisco, has known Feinstein since he was a child and has spoken recently about their personal connection. He interned in her office in college and said he considers her to be family. He said it wasn’t long ago that she would call him on the phone to discuss a variety of issues, from water policy to forest management.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Julie Su Has to Wait Until After Senate Recess

Many point to not only her EDD disaster but the state’s myriad other problems and clear

The tortured path of Julie Su’s journey to be Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labor is riven with potholes, politics, and the PRO Act.

In the past week, Su was praised by some for helping broker a tentative end to the west coast port slowdown.  On the downside, the independent truckers set their phasers on blast – again – and 33 senators asked Biden to withdraw her nomination.

And now, she’ll have to wait until after the Senate recess ending July 7 to even have a chance to schedule a nomination confirmation vote by the full Senate.

As to the port deal, not just Biden praised Su for doing whatever it is she did to bring the two sides together. LA Port Executive Director Gene Seroka lauded Su’s performance, saying she “delivered” and deserves a quick vote to confirm her.  Of course, he said pretty much the same thing about a month ago, so exactly how much that matters is questionable.

And longtime ally and California Federation of Labor leader Lorena Gonzalez chimed in about the port deal, adding that “(H)er decades of work in the Golden State are beyond comparison.”

Gonzalez may actually be correct in her assessment (for once) as Su’s stewardship of the Employment Development Department during the pandemic was truly “beyond comparison” since no one had lost $40 billion in taxpayer money to fraud before.

Su and Gonzalez go way back, as Gonzalez was the author (before she moved from the legislature to her current union chief gig) of AB 5, the notorious anti-freelance bill Su zealously enforced.

In a recent Congressional hearing, Su said she merely enforced the law a few minutes before she admitted she actually helped write it.

One of the real fears of the businesses that have come together to fight Su is that she will push AB-5-type regulations through bureaucratic means on a federal level, even if the PRO Act itself never actually passed by Congress.

Currently, Su’s fate lay in the hands – most likely – of five senators: Democrats Manchin of West Virginia, Tester of Montana, and Kelly of Arizona, Independent Sinema, also of Arizona, and Republican Murkowski of Alaska.  The remaining Republicans are steadfastly opposed while the other Democrats are behind Su, though maybe with not quite the fervor the Republican opposition.

If Su loses two of those four senators, she will not get the job.

Manchin is most likely to vote no, for both political and policy reasons.  In fact, he and other senators (from both parties) demanded Su fix problems with an overseas worker visa program known as H2-B.  Earlier in her confirmation process, Su faced another worker visa scandal when one of her own employees referred to a different worker program the “equivalent to the purchase of humans.”  

In other words, irking one of the people who can keep you from getting a job may not be a good idea.

Tester and Sinema are most likely far more worried about the politics of the nomination as both are facing are tough re-elections fights in states that may not be terribly Su-supportive; while Arizona may be a bit “purple” of late, Montana is no other shade than red.

Murkowski is murkier. She has not voted for Su in the past (recent committee vote, 2021’s full Senate vote to confirm her as deputy labor secretary, her current actual job) but she is widely known around DC for being relatively amenable to a bit of wheeling and dealing with Biden and the Democrats to secure stuff – anything, really – for her home state of Alaska.

In the past 20 or so years, Alaska has received far more per-capita in federal “earmarks” and other specifically dedicated federal project funding than any other state.  Murkowski is following in the footsteps of her father, Sen. Frank Murkowski, who appointed her to his senate seat when he became governor in 2002, who was also (along with pretty much every other Alaska pol in DC) for “bringing home the bacon.”

That history could play a role in Murkowski’s ultimate decision.

Su has also faced other recent allegations that have played a part in stalling the nomination process, failing to properly curtail migrant childhood labor.

Finally, a consistent theme of Su’s opposition has been about her home state of California, with many pointing to not only the EDD disaster but the state’s myriad other problems and clear precipitous decline of late.  

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

McConnell Fends Off Leadership Challenge

He remains Senate GOP head, quashing bid by Scott, but vote shows caucus’ unrest.

Sen. Mitch McConnell was reelected as Republican leader Wednesday, quashing a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the Senate GOP campaign chief criticized after a disappointing performance in the midterm elections that kept Senate control with Democrats.

McConnell, of Kentucky, easily swatted back the challenge from Scott in the first-ever attempt to oust him after many years as GOP leader. The vote was 37-10, senators said, with one other senator voting present. McConnell is poised to become the Senate’s longest-serving leader when the new Congress convenes next year.

“I’m not going anywhere,” McConnell said after the nearly four-hour closed-door meeting. He said he was “pretty proud” of the outcome but acknowledged the work ahead. “I think everybody in our conference agrees we want to give it our best shot.”

At a GOP senators lunch Tuesday, Scott and McConnell traded what colleagues said were “candid” and “lively” barbs. The 10 Republican senators joining in Wednesday’s revolt against McConnell and voting for Scott included some of the most conservative figures and those aligned with former President Trump.

“Why do I think he won?” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), among McConnell’s detractors. “Because the conference didn’t want to change course.”

The unrest in the Senate GOP is similar to the uproar among House Republicans in the aftermath of midterm elections that left the party split over Trump’s hold on the party. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy won the nomination from colleagues to run for speaker, with Republicans seizing the House majority Wednesday, but he faces stiff opposition from a core group of right-flank Republicans unconvinced of his leadership.

Scott said in a statement that although the “results of today’s elections weren’t what we hoped for, this is far from the end of our fight to Make Washington Work.”

Retreating to the Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber for the private vote, the senators first considered, then rejected, a motion by a Scott ally, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, to delay the leadership votes until after the Dec. 6 runoff election in Georgia between Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock that will determine the final makeup of the Senate.

Cruz said it was a “cordial discussion, but a serious discussion” about how Republicans in the minority can work effectively.

In all, 48 GOP new and returning senators voted. Retiring Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska missed the vote to be home after his office said his wife was recovering from a nonthreatening seizure.

Senators also elected the other GOP leadership posts. McConnell’s top posts ranks remained stable, with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) as GOP whip and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) in the No. 3 spot as chairman of the GOP conference. Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines was elected to take over the campaign operation from Scott.

The challenge by Scott, who was urged by Trump to confront McConnell, escalated a long-simmering feud between Scott and McConnell over the party’s approach to try to reclaim the Senate majority.

Restive conservatives in the chamber have lashed out at McConnell’s handling of the election, as well as his iron grip over the Senate Republican caucus.

Trump has been pushing for the party to dump McConnell ever since the Senate leader gave a scathing speech blaming the then-president for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

McConnell has forcefully pushed back, blaming the Republicans’ problems on what he has called “candidate quality” after many of his preferred candidates were replaced by Trump-backed Republicans on the ballot. McConnell said Republicans put up the kinds of candidates who “frightened” independent and moderate voters.

Those voters held the view that “we were not dealing with issues in a responsible way, and we were spending too much time on negativity and attacks and chaos,” McConnell said earlier this week. “They were frightened.”

Among the many reasons Scott listed for mounting a challenge is that Republicans had compromised too much with Democrats in the last Congress — producing bills that President Biden has counted as successes and that Democrats ran on in the 2022 election.

The feud between Scott and McConnell has been percolating for months and reached a boil as election results trickled in showing there would be no Republican Senate wave, as Scott predicted, according to senior Republican strategists who were not authorized to discuss internal issues by name and insisted on anonymity.

The feuding started not long after Scott took over the party committee after the 2020 election. Many in the party viewed his ascension as an effort to build his national political profile and donor network ahead of a potential presidential bid in 2024. Some were irked by promotional materials from the committee that were heavy on Scott’s own biography.

Then came Scott’s release of an 11-point plan early this year, which called for a modest tax increase for many of the lowest-paid Americans, while opening the door for cutting Social Security and Medicare, which McConnell swiftly repudiated even as he declined to offer an agenda of his own.

The feud was driven in part by the fraying trust in Scott’s leadership, as well as poor finances of the committee, which was $20 million in debt, according to a senior Republican consultant.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

State Sen. Sharon Runner has died

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California Sen. Sharon Runner, who returned to the Legislature last year following a double lung transplant, died Tuesday. The Lancaster Republican was 62.

Runner’s family said in a statements that she died peacefully at home, surrounded by family and friends, following respiratory complications.

“Through her life Sharon held tight to her favorite Bible verse, Proverbs 3:5-6, trusting in the Lord through all obstacles,” the Runner family said. “We take comfort in the fact that the Lord truly directed her path, and she is now home in the arms of her savior.”

Runner, who is married to Board of Equalization member George Runner, announced in March that she would not seek re-election when her term ends this year, citing “medical challenges during the cold and flu season.”

She spent six years in the state Assembly before winning a 2011 special election to advance to the Senate, filling the seat of …

Click here to read the full story

Lowest-Paid Legislators Wear Distinction As Badge of Honor

Richard RothOnly in public office could the distinction of lowest paid be worn as a badge of honor.

But Richard Roth, a Riverside Democrat, has refused every pay increase since being elected to the state Senate in 2012, making $90,526 per year in base salary.

Most members of the California Legislature make $100,113 per year, with leadership drawing checks for as much as $115,129. In fact, Roth is the only senator currently paid below the going rate, although there are several like-minded members of the Assembly.

Roth spokesperson Shrujal Joseph told CalWatchdog that Roth believes he has an obligation to perform his duties at the pay rate voters agreed to when he was elected.

“If fortunate enough to be re-elected, Senator Roth will accept the pay that is in effect then, whether it be higher or lower,” said Joseph.

Members of the Assembly

Fullerton Republican Young Kim is the lowest paid member of the Assembly, earning $95,291 annually. Like Roth, she’s refused every pay increase since being elected in 2014 — including one that passed right before she was elected but came into effect afterwards.

Six other members of the Assembly refused one pay increase, earning $97,197. Four are Republicans: Catharine Baker of San Ramon, Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, David Hadley of Torrance and Tom Lackey of Palmdale. Two are Democrats: Ken Cooley of Rancho Cordova and Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks.

California Citizens Compensation Commission

Pay for legislators, and constitutional officers like governor and attorney general, is determined annually by the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which will meet again on April 27. The CCCC also determines benefits.

The CCCC is a seven-member panel, appointed by the governor, which is supposed to represent different segments of the community and different areas of expertise, including one member with expertise in compensation (like an economist); one representing the general public (like a homemaker/retiree/person of median income); one representing the nonprofit world; one who is an executive at a large CA employer; one who represents small business; and two labor representatives.

According to Tom Dalzell, the CCCC chairman, it’s unclear if another raise will be in order as he hasn’t “begun to think about it,” but noted the sacrifice many legislators make by leaving lucrative careers for public office. And in general, pay is considered one of the biggest lures of top talent.

Dalzell, who is a business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 and occupies one of the CCCC’s labor seats, said that in determining whether to increase, freeze or reduce pay, the CCCC considers the state budget, the consumer price index and survey data on local elected officials.

Pay Scale History

California has the highest paid state legislators in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. They are also paid well above the state’s median income of around $61,084.

On the whole, base salary for legislators has increased since 2005. To be more precise, legislators have received six increases, three freezes and two reductions since 2005. To be even more precise, base salary went from $99,000 in 2005 to the $100,113 base salary it is today — after salaries had been frozen between 1999 to 2005.

The two reductions were largely orchestrated by the former chairman Charles Murray, a holdover appointee from the Schwarzenegger administration. Murray stepped down almost a year ago to the day.

The six increases: 2005 – 12 percent increase; 2006 – 2 percent increase; 2007 – 2.75 percent increase; 2013 – 5 percent increase; 2014 – 2 percent increase; 2015 – 3 percent increase.

The two decreases: 2009 – 18 percent reduction; 2012 – 5 percent reduction.

And the three freezes were in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

As readers can probably imagine, the decreases were unpopular in Sacramento. In fact, one former legislator fought a cut — the 18 percent reduction in 2009 that slashed salaries from $116,208 to $95,291 — by appealing to both Brown and the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.

Neither appeal was successful.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com