California’s four U.S. Senate candidates battled in Monday’s first debate for the rare open seat vacated by the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
And the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who will be guaranteed to lose the general election in a blue state, starred.
The three Democrats — U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff, Kathy Porter and Barbara Lee — all tried to emphasize their opposition to the former president and cornered former baseball player Steve Garvin, the lone Republican on stage, as he refused to say whether he would support Trump. to fall
“What more does it take to see what he’s done to say you’re not going to support him?” Schiff asked after Trump “wasted” in his first term and called him a “dictator” and “the greatest threat to democracy in our history.”
Garvey responded, referring to the 2016 and 2020 elections, “both times he was the best man for the job.” But he declined to say whether he would support Trump or President Joe Biden this year, prompting laughter from the crowd.
“It’s true what they say: Once a runner, always a runner,” Porter said of Garvey’s past as a Los Angeles Dodgers player. “This is not the minor leagues. Who will you vote for?”
Porter tried to create an economic-populist persona, calling himself a consumer advocate who “took on greedy corporations.” He vowed to “stand up to corporate power” and “eliminate income inequality and wealth inequality” if elected.
Porter said “special interests have too much power” and “as Californians — we don’t have enough power,” adding that he wants to ban the stock market and congressional practice of inserting spending measures into bills that favor special recipients. Members of Congress.
The candidates participated in a debate on March 5 in Los Angeles at the USC Dornsife Center, hosted by KTTV-TV and Politico. A “jungle primary” where all candidates are on the same nonpartisan ballot and the top two advance to the general election.
While Schiff is the likely front-runner, according to various recent polls, it’s unclear whether Garvey or one of the other two Democrats will be the runner-up.
Porter and Lee tried to draw votes from Garvey, repeatedly criticizing his double-mindedness on divisive issues and portraying him as too conservative for California.
“Abortion is a matter of liberty. And no government that stands for liberty and justice for all should limit people’s decisions about whether and when to have children,” Porter said. “So Mr. Garvey should be clear about where he stands on this issue, and indeed on all other issues.”
Lee has argued against ending the filibuster in the Senate to codify abortion rights. Asked if that would make it easier for Republicans to ban abortion nationwide, he said, “We have to fight politically to make sure that doesn’t happen.” He called for an end to the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of taxpayer money for abortion.
Garvey tried to walk the line between appealing to conservatives without making himself unacceptable in a liberal state. Asked twice, he struggled to clarify anything he disagreed with his party. He said he opposes the “one party” that controls California and calls himself a “conservative moderate.” He added: “I am sane, compassionate. I build consensus. I think we need to get back to that in California.”
“I would not vote for a federal ban on abortion,” she said. “Let’s clear this up now.”
At another point in the discussion, when they were asked to rate the economy on a scale of 1 to 10, Schiff gave it a 7. Lee gave it 6, Porter 5, and Garvey said it was “5 at most”. .”
The debate also revealed a split among Democrats, with Porter stressing his opposition to the records and Schiff and Lee defending the practice.
The candidates clashed over one of the most divisive issues in the race — how to handle the war between Israel and Hamas.
Although Lee has called for a cease-fire in Gaza, Schiff has maintained that he is against it.
“My heart breaks for all the Palestinians who lost their lives. I think it’s not human nature to grieve the loss of innocent Palestinians and innocent Israelis. I support a two-state solution,” Schiff said. . “We must return to a two-state solution. Israel must defend itself. We cannot leave Hamas running Gaza.”
Porter said he favored a “permanent ceasefire” to ensure “bilateral, lasting peace” in Israel and the Palestinian territories once certain conditions were met, but added: “‘Ceasefire’ is not a magic word. You can’t just say it and do it.”
Unlike Democrats, Garvey said he believed it was “naive to think a two-state solution could happen.”