Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Democrats brawl in California Senate race as progressives fear a lockout

By 37ci3 Feb23,2024



BURBANK, Calif. – Open U.S. Senate seats don’t come around often in California elections. Since becoming a safe blue state, there has only been one in the last 30 years. So it’s no surprise that the race to replace the late Sen. Dianne Fainstein has turned into a battle for the coveted job among influential House Democrats.

The race has sparked a heated battle between Democratic establishment favorite and front-runner Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank and economic-populist Rep. Katie Porter of Orange County, with some cheating to try to use the state’s first two systems. In California, all candidates run together in a single primary, with the top two vote-getters in the March 5 contest facing each other in November, regardless of party.

The other major candidates in the race are progressive Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland and Republican former baseball player Steve Garvey.

“My idea has always been: run like you’re in last place. So we’re working hard,” Schiff said in an interview here at campaign headquarters. “But knock on wood, I feel good about where we’re at.”

Schiff said his top priorities if elected senator would be to act on gun safety, codify abortion rights, strengthen nationwide voting rights, expand the Supreme Court and remove term limits on justices — and he said the Senate would vote on nuclear weapons. the filibuster rule to achieve all this.

Polls consistently show Schiff as the frontrunner to advance to the general election. But it’s unclear who he will face, with Garvey and Porter in close competition for second place. Lee sits a distant fourth, struggling to gain traction. While some polls have Garvey narrowly ahead of Porter for second place, a just-released Public Policy Institute of California poll has Porter one point ahead of Garvey — within the margin of error.

“I’m not a career politician,” Porter said in an interview. “Adam Schiff has been working in Congress for 24 years. And we haven’t done anything during that time… to reduce childcare costs. As a single mom, I face this challenge and will be a really fierce advocate for things like this.

A fiery and personal battle

Shadowboxing started about a month ago on Schiff’s time aired a television commercial He campaigned weakly on Garvey, calling him “too conservative” for California and linking him to former President Donald Trump. The goal: Activate Republicans to vote for Garvey, boost him in the general election, and oust Porter. Schiff would be a heavy favorite in a California Republican runoff. What about Schiff v. Porter? It would be a coup – and a hotly contested one.

Porter exploded Schiff’s ad is “unashamedly cynical” and a sign that she’s afraid of losing to him. But Porter is fighting fire with fire. He debuted recently digital advertising pointed to little-known GOP candidate Eric Early, calling him “too MAGA for California” and more pro-Trump than Garvey. If pro-Trump Republicans leave Garvey early, that would improve Porter’s prospects of making the ballot in November.

“Schiff describes himself as a hero of this democracy. But money shows where his values ​​really are,” Porter said in an interview. “There is no chance that Steve Garvin will be the next senator. That’s why Adam Schiff is stepping it up – to end the campaign, to stop doing the hard work of democracy. (Despite several requests, a spokesman for Garvey’s campaign declined to make him available for an interview.)

Porter also said that a Schiff-Porter race this fall would increase Democratic turnout in California help his party win back the House. “Having a Schiff-Garvey race — putting me out of the race — will hurt the Democrats’ ability to win back the House. I attract young voters, voters of color, and Latino voters at higher rates than Representative Schiff,” he said.

Asked about criticism of his tactics, Schiff accused Porter of “hypocrisy” for airing the Early ad, saying it “directly contradicts the attacks he’s made on me.”

Schiff also highlighted her role in Trump’s impeachment and the January 6 committee, which gave her a national profile that benefited her in the Senate race. “He was out there when our democracy was in jeopardy,” Schiff said of Porter. “I was in the middle of a battle”

Porter presented himself as more able to handle things than Schiff, saying that his history “He argues with Republicans” will force him to “take on the role” of the right’s preferred lightning rod, a role Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said he has held for years.

Progressive fears

Progressives increasingly fear that their two candidates — Porter and Lee — will split left-leaning voters and block each other, opening the door to a Schiff-Garvey showdown. Porter is best known as a Sen. Elizabeth Warren-style populist, pushing economic issues like child care and taking on corporations with his signature slate, while Lee has long advocated against wars like Afghanistan, civil liberties and control of the Pentagon.

Both candidates will represent the victory of the left. It would be a surprising own goal if they both failed to participate in the November election.

“The progressive movement has watched this race with increasing concern,” said a prominent progressive operative who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity. “The poll shows that both Lee and Porter split the same voting bloc, allowing Adam Schiff — a white straight man without much of a progressive record — to avoid a one-on-one showdown with a giant, tried-and-true progressive in deep-blue California. National progressives are the most viable should unite behind the progressive candidate and the candidate with the most difficult path should step aside for the good of the movement.”

Polls say it’s Porter. Porter did not call for Lee to drop out of the race, but he noted that Lee regularly ranks fourth in the polls, suggesting he is the only progressive with a chance to advance.

Lee insists he can beat the odds. “It’s always a steep climb if you’re a woman — a black woman, a woman of color,” Lee said when asked about the potential lockout. “But we have an amazing campaign that people are supporting. … I’m looking forward to getting into the top two.”

The Oakland-area congressman said he has a longer and deeper history with the progressive movement than Porter or any candidate in the race.

“Look at our records. I have been the most consistent progressive in Congress,” Lee said. “Look at who’s leading foreign policy, continuing to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.”

Schiff recalled that he was once invited to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus and “expressed interest in joining. But I think that some of my colleagues wanted to make a political issue out of it, so we decided to withdraw.”

Asked if he considered himself a progressive, Schiff replied: “I do.” “My voting record is very progressive.”





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