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Adam Schiff, Steve Garvey, Katie Porter? Who will be the finalists for California’s senate seat?

Californians voted Tuesday to win the state's most competitive Senate race in a generation, choosing two candidates who will face off to represent the Golden State in Washington in November.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine, and Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland are members of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who represented California in the Senate since 1992. He has been campaigning for his successor for more than a year. The leading Republican challenger, former Dodgers All-Star Steve Garvey, entered the race in October.

The job is one of the most coveted in California politics, but it's rarely available. Ms. Feinstein served in the Senate for more than 30 years, and Sen. Barbara Boxer served in the Senate for nearly a quarter of a century. A Senate seat can also be a springboard to senior office, as was the case with Vice President Kamala Harris, President Nixon, and California Governor Pete Wilson.

For the first time in a generation, Californians may not have a woman elected to represent them in the Senate. Both Boxer and Feinstein were elected in her 1992 year, the so-called Year of Women in American Politics. The winner of the November election will serve alongside Sen. Alex Padilla, who will be elected in 2022.

The statewide race puts Schiff, Porter and Lee (all popular Democrats who run together in Congress) on a collision course for the first time, forcing California voters to parse the finer differences in liberal territory. It was done.

Candidates sought to emphasize their own flavor of progressive politics. Schiff highlighted his decades of experience in Washington, including his high-profile work as House manager of President Trump's first impeachment trial. Mr. Porter struck a populist tone, pledging to fight corporate influence in Washington. Lee relied on his long-standing progressive, anti-war credentials. And Garvey portrayed himself as an antidote to California's failed liberal leadership.

The dynamics of the campaign were also shaped by California's unusual “jungle primary” system, in which the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party.

In an effort to remove Porter, Schiff and his allies have waged what amounted to a free advertising campaign against Garvey, calling the former Dodgers and Padres first baseman “too conservative for California.” He ran political ads throughout the state, plotting the election as “too conservative for California.” A two-person race.

Mr. Garvey began his campaign months after the leading Democratic candidates, but he has made few public appearances and did not hold any campaign events in the days leading up to the election. Mr. Schiff's support has surged in recent weeks, coinciding with Mr. Schiff's turmoil.
It solidified support from Republicans, who make up about a quarter of California's registered voters, which helped cut back on advertising.

In a state where Democrats have a 2-1 advantage in voter registration, Schiff's odds would be the best to win against a Republican in November. A poll released last week by the University of California, Berkeley's Institute of Government and co-sponsored by The Times found Garvey to open with a 53% to 38% lead in the two-way contest, making him the overwhelming favorite to win. It will be.

The race for Democrats Schiff and Porter could be more painful and costly, with progressives and more moderate Democrats on controversial issues such as military aid to Israel in its war with Hamas. There is a possibility that the fault between

Mr. Lee, Mr. Porter and Mr. Schiff remained in Washington until the final days of the election to negotiate a potential government shutdown. They all crisscrossed the state in the final stages of the campaign, making their final claims to voters.

Schiff rented a private plane and made stops in seven cities over two days, including San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco and Salinas. He claimed support from prominent Democrats, including Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi and California's new Speaker Robert Rivas.

“Why do you think about 80% of your California colleagues supported Adam Schiff for the Senate?” Pelosi told the crowd at a Sunday night event in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. . “Because they know he knows Congress and he knows California.”

But not everyone embraced Schiff warmly. Schiff, who is Jewish, does not call for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, saying, “How can there be lasting peace as long as terrorist organizations rule Gaza and threaten to attack Gaza?'' I don't know.'' And again and again. ”

Six protesters interrupted Mr. Schiff's first visit of the weekend at a union hall for plumbers and steam fitters in Orange County, shouting “Shame on you, Adam!” “Children are starving in Gaza!”

Porter voted in Irvine with her 18-year-old son on Saturday, then flew to San Francisco on Sunday. At Manny's, a local community space and cafe in the Mission District, Porter says he doesn't accept funding from corporate political action committees and that the election is “an opportunity to define California as a cutting-edge city.” and the crowd cheered. Democracy. ”

Jared Burns, 36, of San Francisco, said he supports Porter because he identifies with her and her no-nonsense style.

“She's not a politician. That's what I like about her: her integrity,” Burns said. “I like helping the underdog stand up against political elites.”

In the final days of the campaign, Lee focused on Southern California, where there are many voters, rallying supporters in the Inland Empire, San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. On the second floor of an Irvine bowling alley, she mentioned her support for the Gaza ceasefire and told the crowd: More differences than similarities. ”

Alan Vargas, 22, from Corona, has been sharing enthusiastic videos about Lee with his roughly 50,000 followers on TikTok. Vargas wasn't yet born when Lee made her famous lone vote against authorizing military force in Afghanistan in 2001, but it was a pivotal moment that supported her bid for the Senate. He said that was the reason.

“She seems to be the only one who stands up for her beliefs in the same way young people do,” Vargas said, adding that Lee's progressivism and anti-war politics stand out to him as a politician. He said it is uniquely aligned with his values. A member of Generation Z.

Katie Ross, 69, of Laguna Beach, was initially excited that Porter would represent her city in Congress after California's electoral maps were redrawn. Ross likes Porter's hard-working style, contributing more than $1,000 to his 2020 and 2022 House campaigns.

But when, three days after being sworn in, Mr. Porter announced that he would run for the Senate, Mr. Ross was disappointed. The timing of Porter's announcement made Ross feel that “as a new voter, our district is not a priority,” he said.

Instead, Ms. Ross supports Mr. Schiff, saying she has long admired Mr. Schiff's intelligence, more than 20 years of experience in Washington, and his willingness to stand up to Trump. And his polite and unflinching demeanor is “much needed in the Senate,” she said.

Although no longer in the Oval Office, Trump has become a major talking point in the campaign. Mr. Garvey voted for the former president twice, but he has not said whether he will vote again, and Democrats have used the former president's name to say: Refine their liberal integrity.

Lee said he was one of the earliest proponents of impeachment and was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Porter also spoke about impeachment and the forced questioning of Trump appointees on the House Financial Services Committee.

Still, Mr. Schiff has been Mr. Trump's most visible and powerful foil through his role as House impeachment manager and regular appearances on cable news, and Mr. Trump regularly taunts him at rallies. , insulted him on social media.

This high-profile role allowed Schiff to raise millions of dollars in campaign contributions. His campaign reported spending more than $22 million on advertising in about six weeks.

Mr. Porter himself was an incredible fundraiser, but his numbers did not come close to Mr. Schiff's. Mr. Schiff successfully won re-election to a 12th term in the House in 2022, leaving millions of dollars in his campaign fund untouched. These funds provided him with a multi-million dollar cushion to launch his Senate campaign.

Lee struggled to raise enough money to launch a state-wide advertising campaign that cost millions of dollars.

Both she and Schiff have pledged not to accept campaign contributions from corporate political action committees, a practice Porter has followed since first running for president in 2018.

Mr. Porter repeatedly criticized Mr. Schiff for receiving campaign contributions from political action committees funded by oil, pharmaceutical, financial and other companies that seek to influence federal policy in Washington. she told him in her recent debate. “I had no idea how much dirty money you took until I ran with you.”

Mr. Schiff claimed that Mr. Porter accepts donations from people who work in the oil industry, Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies, and had accepted contributions from Mr. Schiff without complaint in the past. A Times analysis of federal campaign data found that Mr. Schiff's two fundraising committees contributed $54,675 to Mr. Porter during his run for Congress.

The problem with “purity tests” like the one presented by Porter, Schiff said in a recent debate, is that “the people who set the tests don't always meet the tests.”

The race was also shaped by more than $21 million in spending by outside groups, including an independent spending committee called Fair Shake, which spent more than $10 million opposing Mr. Porter's candidacy. Funded by cryptocurrency investors, the group aired ads across the state (and even flew a plane circling the Hollywood Hills with banners drawn) portraying Porter as a hypocrite and actor. (hired).

Times staff writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.

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