California Senate Race: Schiff & Garvey Advance

Ryan Heshmati

March 08, 2024

Steve Garvey, former professional baseball player and Republican Senate candidate for California, will advance to the November election against Congressman Adam Schiff. This race was notable for various reasons, but especially because of Schiff’s strategy to avoid a general election fight with another Democrat. The race now heads to the general election in what is widely considered a long-shot bid for Garvey, but what culminated to get here?

Garvey, notable for his lack of significant campaigning, received a major boost from Schiff. Schiff, concerned about Democratic rival Congresswoman Katie Porter potentially advancing to the general election and putting up a considerable fight, decided to spend millions on messaging designed to boost Garvey’s profile among California conservatives. In fact, The Washington Post’s Maeve Reston puts the figure Schiff and allies spent aiding Garvey at $11.2 million. 

Reston notes, however, that Porter attempted to utilize a similar strategy by bringing Republican candidate Eric Early into the sights of Republicans to pull from Garvey’s support, spending over $500,000 in that pursuit. Porter rose to prominence for her critical attacks on corporations and their executives, in one instance going after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon for not paying his employees enough and asking him for guidance on how a hypothetical employee would survive on the salary his company provides.

While Porter is undoubtedly known as a progressive, she was not the only major progressive candidate in the race. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a longtime progressive representing the greater Oakland area in the House, attempted to obtain attention with extreme proposals like a $ 50-an-hour minimum wage. Her rhetoric was particularly unsuccessful, as she finished fourth behind Schiff, Garvey, and Porter.

At Garvey’s election night watch party, he gave remarks indicating, “... we haven’t come this far to only go this far.” Unfortunately for Garvey, that optimism is contradicted by California’s recent electoral preferences. The state has not elected a Republican to statewide office since 2006, when Steve Poizer was elected to the position of Insurance Commissioner and Arnold Schwarzenegger was reelected governor. In the last Senatorial race for this seat, a Republican did not even advance to the runoff, as Feinstein faced off with fellow Democrat Kevin de León.

Nevertheless, Garvey and Schiff will face off in November, and until then, Garvey is in the race. While it is impossible to be certain of the results coming in November, Schiff unquestionably has much to be enthusiastic about.