With ballots closed and election season in full swing, many Californians have discovered a sneaky strategy by Rep. Adam Schiff’s Senate campaign to ease his path to succeeding the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
In the U.S. Senate race, due to California’s widespread primary system, the top two vote-getters on March 5 will advance to the November election to determine California’s next senator.
Schiff is one of three Democratic House members with a discernible chance of placing in the top two, the others being Bay Area Rep. Barbara Lee and Orange County Rep. Katie Porter.
Polls have consistently shown in recent months that Schiff will likely be the first vote getter, making the race for second place crucial.
Although there are several Republican candidates, former baseball star Steve Garvey has garnered enough support that, according to a recent poll, he could likely come in second place, advance to November and then face Schiff.
Given the political makeup of California, it is almost certain that any Democratic Senate candidate would beat Garvey or any other Republican in the Senate. There are twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans and even a generous split of independent voters in favor of Republicans will mean a majority vote for Democratic candidates. It’s just a political reality.
So it’s in Schiff’s best interest for Garvey to make the top two.
That would lock up the Senate election in November and make the election season even easier.
In contrast, if Rep. Katie Porter or Rep. Barbara Lee were to place in the top two, not only would that make for a competitive Senate race, but it would also be very expensive. There is no doubt that such a scenario would also drain money that could otherwise help Democrats reduce their turnout in a hotly contested election.
And so the Schiff campaign is working hard to make sure that Steve Garvey is in the top two.
“Could Republican Steve Garvey Really Win? A mailer paid for by the Schiff campaign asks the question alongside headlines (“Steve Garvey climbs in polls in California U.S. Senate race,” read one), giving readers the I feel like, yeah, maybe Garvey could win.
“Steve Garvey. Too conservative for California,” the mailer warns in a way intended both to encourage Democratic voters to vote blue, but also to encourage Republicans to rally behind “too conservative” Steve Garvey.
A pro-Schiff Super PAC is pouring money into ads on Fox News, similarly attacking Garvey for being too conservative.
As this editorial board and many others have pointed out, Garvey attempted to present himself as a moderate Republican, likely under the impression that independent and Democratic-leaning Californians would give such a candidate a chance. (Hint: They won’t.)
This encouraged some minor Republican Senate candidates to attack Garvey from the right as insufficiently MAGA. If perennial hopeless candidates like Eric Early and James Bradley can get enough votes from Garvey, that opens the door to the top two for either Porter or Lee.
Hence the continued efforts of Schiff and his supporters to amplify Garvey’s candidacy. You can thank the first two primaries for these kinds of games.
California Daily Newspapers