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Katie Porter is running out of time in Senate race, falling behind Steve Garvey

Rep. Katie Porter, known among Democrats for her harsh criticism of powerful corporations and right-wing ideologues testifying before Congress, is at serious risk of losing the California primary on Tuesday. , it would mark the end of her bid for the late Dianne Feinstein's seat in the Senate. She won her seat in the fall general election.

In addition to a tough 2022 re-election campaign and expected low voter turnout that has depleted his once formidable campaign coffers, Irvine has lost Democratic rival Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank and his allies. They must overcome the millions of dollars they spent supporting Republican candidate Steve Garvey. , former Dodgers All-Star first baseman.

If Mr. Garvey and Mr. Schiff win the top two spots in California's open primary, they will be the only candidates to advance to the November general election, but since California has a strong Democratic leaning, Mr. Schiff He is the most likely candidate. Political experts say Mr. Schiff's strategy to support Mr. Garvey is largely driven by the threat Mr. Garvey will face in a one-on-one match with Mr. Porter in the fall election. do.

“She would give him a huge lead in the general election. He would look like an establishment Washington, D.C., insider, and she could contrast herself with him.” is undecided, said Republican strategist Kevin Spillane. “That's pretty remarkable. Schiff is working harder than Garvey himself to get Garvey into the runoff.”

Spillane said he can't recall anyone spending so much money to support a statewide Republican candidate since then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in 2010. The effort was largely expected, as the ad campaign portrayed Mr. Garvey as a supporter of former President Trump and the biggest political threat to Mr. Schiff. The move is intended to increase the former Dodgers first baseman's appeal among Republican voters.

This strategy is partially driven by California's top-two primary system, approved by voters more than a decade ago, in which only the two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general election. This means that it can be done., regardless of political party affiliation.

But this year's Senate race, a rare open seat for Californians in the nation's highest legislature, will also depend on the track record and personality of the top Democrats in the race.

Mr. Schiff and Mr. Porter, both liberal Democrats who are huge fundraisers and well-known voices among cable news viewers across the country, are competing in the general election. It will be very different from the current primaries.

Mr. Schiff, who was elected to Congress in 2000 as a moderate, had the support of most of the Democratic establishment, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). He is currently leading Congress' first impeachment trial of Trump over foreign interference in the 2020 election, as well as the 2021 House investigation into Trump's accountability for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. is best known to many voters for its vocal role in

U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, right, finished voting Saturday at the University Hills Community Center polling place in Irvine and left with her son Luke Hoffman, 18, a first-time voter.

(Ringo Chiu/For the Times)

Mr. Porter has virtually the same voting record as Mr. Schiff, but he has honed his populism, criticizing corporate executives in Congressional Oversight Hearings and focusing on issues such as income inequality. A former law professor at the University of California, Irvine, his background as a single mother who drives a minivan also appeals to moderate voters in the sharply divided suburban Orange County House district.

“Part of her personality is that she's authentic. I think she's trying to connect with ordinary voters who are facing and talking about the same table issues as single mothers,” said UC San Diego. said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the school. “That's part of her appeal and may lead to her gaining moderate support from the public.”

Porter's position, coupled with Schiff being one of the nation's most prominent anti-Trump opponents, could boost Porter's support in the general election by winning over anti-Schiff Republican voters. he added.

“I don't think she would have built as much of a wall with the Republicans as he did because he was such a prominent figure as a leader on impeachment. That helped him. [in the primary] But it’s a double-edged sword,” Kousser said in the general election.

But Mr. Porter's prospects for reaching the November ballot are uncertain at best. A new poll shows her in third place in the primary, with early polling showing lower turnout among voters most likely to support her compared to Schiff and Garvey. It has been shown that

Mr. Garvey and Mr. Schiff are statistically tied for the top two spots, according to a poll released Friday by the Institute for Governmental Research at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Los Angeles Times. Among likely key voters, Mr. Garvey received 27% support, while Mr. Schiff received 25%, which was within the poll's margin of error. Porter received 19% support, while fellow Democrat Barbara Lee of Oakland received 8% support. Just over one in 10 supported another candidate, while 9% said they were undecided.

Mail-in ballots already cast favor Garvey over Porter.

The state has far more registered Democratic voters than Republicans, but by Friday, Republicans had voted 15% to 13%, according to a poll tracker run by the respected political group PDI. It was high compared to %. A data company that caters to Democratic and independent candidates.

Paul Mitchell, a veteran Democratic strategist and vice president of PDI, said the lack of enthusiasm for the election reflects the reality that Presidents Biden and Trump are all but certain to secure each party's presidential nomination. Voter turnout is expected to be low.

“This is just a boring referendum,” Mitchell said.

Republicans appear to be more likely to vote in primaries, so lower turnout could be an advantage for Mr. Garvey. Moreover, if Republican voters solidify behind Mr. Garvey and Democrats split among candidates, as polls suggest, that alone could give Mr. Garvey one of the top two spots on Tuesday. There is a good chance of winning one.

Additionally, the data shows that young voters and people of color, who are more likely to support Porter in the Senate race, vote far less frequently than older white voters.

One caveat: Tuesday is the first presidential primary since California began mailing ballots to all registered voters during the pandemic.

“It's still too early to talk about turnout, but obviously turnout doesn't tend to be that high. But these days, every voter is sent a ballot,” he said. said Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin, who was not involved. “We definitely expect turnout to be low, but it's still too early to say by how low. Porter seems to be in a tough spot, but I think there's still a chance to pull through.”

But he said Porter's challenges will be even greater due to how much Schiff has spent in this campaign and how much he will have to spend in a tough 2022 congressional re-election campaign. He added that it was getting complicated.

Both men were among the most prodigious fundraisers in Congress, but Schiff entered the race with far more money and has since raised more money than Porter.

More than $65 million was spent on the race, making it the most expensive Senate race in California history, according to . Data company AdImpact. The company tweeted Friday morning that 60% of Schiff's broadcast ads mention Garvey.

Most of these funds have been spent by Schiff and his allies, including the Independent Appropriations Committee, which is funded by Native American tribes and cryptocurrency billionaires, and is supporting Porter's Senate bid. In addition to attacking him, it also raises Garvey's profile among Republicans.

Despite candidates calling for a boycott of advertising on cable stations over false reporting about the 2020 election, broadcast and cable networks have been unable to air campaign ads, such as Schiff's message about Mr. Garvey on Fox News. Covered with advertisements about.

Schiff spoke on MSNBC in 2023 after running for Senate, referring to “people who continue to intentionally lie and continue to run ads on our stations that intentionally undermine our elections.” They too are guilty in this regard. ”

Schiff's campaign spent $390,152 last week highlighting Garvey's candidacy on Fox News, according to Sheri Sadler, a Democratic media buyer. He does not work for any candidate in the campaign.

Schiff's campaign declined to comment on candidates' efforts to support Garvey.

A spokesperson for Garvey said the Republican's increase in polling was the result of Californians “reuniting” with the retired baseball player and learning about his priorities.

“Adam Schiff's aggressive campaign against Garvey and the latest preliminary poll results have proven our predictions to be accurate,” said spokesman Matt Shoop. “Mr. Garvey's half-century-long bond with Californians goes beyond politics and will be a formidable force in both the primary and general elections.”

Porter's campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but the candidate has repeatedly raised money as Schiff's campaign focuses on Garvey.

“If we advance to the general election, there is a good chance we will win the race,” Porter wrote in one of four mass emails to supporters on Thursday. “That's why the super PAC and Schiff camp are doing everything in their power to stop me from moving forward. I'm not complaining to you. Their plan may work.”

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