With three weeks until the primary election, the four leading candidates for California’s open U.S. Senate seat once again gathered on the debate stage to make their case for representing the nation’s most populous state — and the fifth largest economy in the world – on Capitol Hill.
Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of Burbank, Katie Porter of Irvine and Barbara Lee of Oakland as well as ex-Dodger Republican Steve Garvey spent the evening discussing hot-button issues like immigration, housing and the economy. Their responses were passionate, but their tone was surprisingly courteous, as the majority of their time was spent showcasing their own platforms rather than tearing down those of their competitors.
On the border crisis, all candidates agreed on the urgent need for change, but their proposed action plans were divided along partisan lines.
Garvey, the only Republican candidate on the debate stage, placed the blame for the state of the border squarely on President Joe Biden.
“The president has opened the floodgates and created a crisis in the United States,” Garvey said. “He is the one who should intervene and close the border; he should be the one to end cartel infiltration and prevent rampant drugs from entering this country from China.
Democratic candidates, for their part, criticized the approach of former President Donald Trump and Republican governors to the migrant crisis.
“I do not agree with draconian solutions. I disagree with Mr. Garvey promoting Donald Trump’s border wall,” Schiff said. “It does not work.”
Instead of stepping up efforts to keep immigrants out, Schiff called for more immigration judges who can process asylum applications. Porter, meanwhile, said she supports deploying more resources and personnel to the border, including technology that would make it easier to detect fentanyl and other illegal goods.
Lee criticized Republican governors who sent immigrants to cities with Democratic leaders, such as Los Angeles and New York.
“We need to make sure we’re investing in cities and counties that actually help immigrants, given the ability of governors to send immigrants to other states,” she said. “What they’re doing is dividing residents from immigrants.”
A similar division occurred among candidates on the topic of raising the minimum wage.
All three Democrats said raising the minimum wage is necessary to solve the housing affordability crisis, while Garvey said, “It’s good where it is.”
Garvey said the cost of raising the minimum wage would be passed directly to “hard-working Californians” who will be forced to pay more for everyday goods.
But Schiff, in response to Garvey, said: “You can say minimum wage is okay where it is, but you want to know why people are living on the streets.” It’s because we pay them poverty wages.
Porter and Lee both support a minimum wage of $20 to $25 an hour. Lee, who is running as the most progressive candidate in the race, said she would consider $50 an hour a living wage in the Bay Area, which she represents.
She argued the need for such a drastic jump during the debate by pointing to a study that found that an annual income of $127,000 is “barely enough” for a family of four to survive in the Texas area. the Bay.
“I have to focus on what California needs and the affordability factor when we calculate these salaries,” she said.
When it comes to stimulating the economy, Garvey called for “opening the doors and reducing inflation” by reducing the number of government regulations on housing production. However, when pushed to do so, he failed to come up with any specific regulations he would want to overturn.
Encouraging more housing production was a rare point of agreement among all the candidates. However, although Garvey believes that the best way to achieve this is for government to step aside, Porter believes that government should take a more active role in financing development.
She stressed the need to “leverage the power of the federal government to free up the capital we need to build more affordable housing for our workers.” His housing plan calls for encouraging the production of multifamily developments with tax credits and government loan guarantees.
Monday night’s showdown was hosted by KTLA in San Francisco. In January, the four candidates met on the debate stage in Los Angeles where they clashed over health care, the Israel-Hamas war and Trump.
When conflict in the Middle East resumed, Lee continued to call for an immediate ceasefire. Schiff said he recognized the need to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, but did not want Hamas, labeled a terrorist organization, to control the area. Garvey called a two-state solution “unrealistic” and said he supported Israel’s right to defend itself.
Garvey, once again, dodged questions about Trump. He declined to say whether he would vote for Trump again or accept the former president’s support.
“I think it’s personal,” he said. “I will make this decision when the time comes, and I hope it puts an end to this constant harassment and use of the former president’s name as an attack against me.”
Schiff currently leads the race with about 25% of voter support, according to the recent California Elections & Policy poll. Porter and Garvey are deadlocked in second place with 15% each, while Lee trails behind with 7%.
The top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to the November ballot to fill the seat long held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died in September.
Schiff is better off facing a Republican opponent in November rather than a fellow Democrat, whose campaign could potentially gain momentum after the primaries.
Garvey, for his part, benefits from a three-way split in the Democratic vote in the primary, but will face an uphill battle once the Democratic vote coalesces around a single candidate. No Republican candidate has won a Senate race in California since 1988.
California Daily Newspapers