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Porter, Schiff, Lee make final Senate pitch; Garvey nowhere to be seen

With her minivan in the parking lot and an “I Voted” sticker freshly applied to her magenta dress, U.S. Rep. Katie Porter faced a scrum of reporters and television cameras at her Irvine polling place. I looked at it.

“Wait,” she stopped and turned to the woman running the voting center. “Can you answer these questions here? Or do you want me to come outside if the questions are campaign-related?”

Porter, a hitherto outspoken law professor, wanted to make sure he followed applicable election rules before continuing with an impromptu press conference Saturday morning, even in his final day of Senate campaigning.

A few feet away, Porter's familiar voice echoed in his campaign pitch as his 18-year-old son, Luke Hoffman, marked his first ballot. The idea was that Californians were dissatisfied with Washington, tired of his career politicians, and were looking forward to the next senator. She does things differently.

“I'm the only Democrat running in this election who has never accepted corporate PAC money. That makes me different. My vote is not for sale,” Porter said. .

The single mother then returned to her slightly beat-up Toyota Sienna and told her son he could use the car after taking his sister to water polo.

With just days left before voting closes at 8 p.m. Tuesday, three leading Democratic politicians are traveling around the state, hoping the final pitch will connect with voters. Mr. Porter made no public appearances after Saturday morning's vote, but reappeared Sunday afternoon for an event in San Francisco.

Her main competitor, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, rented a small private plane over the weekend, allowing him to cover a much larger area of ​​the state. and Congresswoman Barbara Lee held events in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

Former Dodgers star Steve Garvey, a Republican who holds few public events and doesn't get paid to appear in television ads, stayed out of the fray all weekend.

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On the eve of the state's most competitive Senate race in decades, Porter is currently in third place in the polls and appears likely to be eliminated from the November runoff.

Schiff's controversial tactics hype Mr. Garvey appears to have succeeded, helping push a first-time candidate to the top spot in a field divided among three Democrats running to fill the shoes of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Mr. Schiff and Mr. Porter are both nationally prominent Democrats; Lee He has deep progressive credentials honed over a quarter-century in Congress.

Schiff and his supporters have spent millions of dollars airing ads featuring Garvey. Beginner in politics He is his chief rival in the Senate race and an ardent disciple of former President Trump, and has done little campaigning.

Congressman Adam Schiff spoke Saturday at a campaign event at the UA Union Hall in Orange. Schiff is running to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

(Paul Rodriguez/For the Times)

advertisement While the former first baseman's appeal to Republican voters is certain to increase, Porter criticized the tactic as “brazen cynicism.”

Under California's primary election system, only the two candidates who receive the most votes in the March 5 election, regardless of party, will advance to the November general election.

Newest UC Berkeley Institute of Government Opinion poll co-sponsored with The Times showed Garvey with a slight lead, with support from 27% of likely voters to Schiff's 25% and Porter's 19%.

Lee remained behind Schiff and Porter. After a long campaign, he won 8% of the vote, but 12% of voters chose another candidate and 9% were undecided.

All of this puts Burbank in a solid position to potentially enter a runoff with Garvey. Considering that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-to-1 in the election, this result would almost guarantee him a Senate seat in the general election. state.

But the race isn't over yet.

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Mr. Schiff began his weekend campaign early Saturday morning at a union hall for plumbers and steam fitters in Orange.

Before his appearance, supporters walked around carrying signs that read “Schiff in the Senate” and others that depicted Schiff's apple-cheeked face in a Shepard Fairey style. Some wore buttons depicting a shirtless young Schiff riding a bicycle. It had the caption, “Ride with Schiff.”

Meeten Butt, 55, of San Bernardino, drove to Orange on Saturday morning to meet Schiff. It was the computer programmer's first political rally. Although he is not politically active, Butt said he tries to follow the news and respects the fact that Schiff was not afraid to confront Trump during the impeachment trial.

“He stands up for what's right,” Butt said. “Most of Washington seems pretty corrupt, but he seems to be straight.”

Pam Dunsmore, 36, and her husband James, 35, of Fullerton, attended the rally with their 1-year-old daughter, Addie, wearing pink socks and a onesie dotted with hearts.

Dunsmore, a professor at Fullerton College, said he likes both Mr. Porter and Mr. Schiff, but is still undecided on how he will vote. She said she didn't see many meaningful differences between the two countries' policy positions and hoped that seeing Schiff “in the flesh” would help make a decision.

“I was really impressed with both,” Dunsmore said.

After Schiff took the stage, he was stopped six times by protesters who called for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

Mr. Schiff continued to deliver his speech from the script without acknowledging any interruptions as security guards escorted the protesters away.

“We are Californians and we will always march forward, leading the way for the rest of America,” Schiff said as protesters chanted “cease fire now!” through the loudspeaker outside.

Schiff's supporters shouted “Adam!” Adam! “One staff member closed the entrance to the car park to minimize noise.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee shakes hands with rally attendees.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (right), who is running for U.S. Senate, shakes hands with California Senate candidate Alex Mohajer at the Back Bay Conference Center in Irvine on Saturday.

(Ringo Chiu/For the Times)

Hours later, in a second-floor conference room above a crowded Irvine bowling alley, Lee's mention of her longtime support for a ceasefire drew applause and cheers, and her “multiracial, multigenerational progressive coalition.” We also talked about. and protests against defense spending.

“We only have about 77 hours left,” Lee said, blaming the low turnout so far and telling the audience of about 24 people in the room that they had “no confidence” to pass on the information. He said that he hopes that he will be a good messenger.

She also seemed to sharply compare herself to Schiff and Porter, saying, “When people ask me what's the difference between me and my opponent, I have to say there are more differences than similarities.” I don't get it.”

All three Democrats entered the race during Feinstein's lifetime, and the long shadow of California's first female senator loomed large over the early campaigns. Feinstein died in September at the age of 90.

With an incumbent in his 90s, this election essentially represented a generational change. But Mr. Schiff, who has been in Congress since 2001 and has touted support from establishment figures such as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is positioning himself as a possible continuation of Mr. Feinstein's legacy. The more iconoclastic Porter orients himself as an agent of change, somewhat in opposition to his DC establishment, which Schiff represents.

For months, the campaign has largely revolved around these two Democratic superstars, both leaning into their respective national personas as they seek presumptive status in the November runoff. I rushed forward. But Mr. Garvey's mid-October inauguration ultimately threw the field into disarray, giving it a candidate to rally around in California, a state that is still a small, albeit shrinking, Republican base.

On Sunday, Porter stood in front of a packed room of 200 people at Manny's, a local community space and cafe, in San Francisco's Mission District.

When she touted that she did not take money from corporate political action committees, attendees cheered, several people lined up for photos and asked her to sign a whiteboard.

“This is an opportunity for us to define California as the cutting edge of democracy,” Porter said.

Oakland resident Travis Richards also nodded. Mr. Lee represents him, but ultimately Mr. Porter's expertise in consumer protection law and her experience assuming significant power made her the best of the three candidates. He said he would become a senator.

“She's been guided by a moral standpoint. I love that about her,” he said.

Mike Ferrin and his wife, Susie, of Salinas, about 100 miles south, arrived early Sunday afternoon to secure front-row seats at Schiff's campaign event on the second floor of a historic building downtown. .

Mr. Ferrin, who is retired, said he did not know Mr. Schiff until President Trump's first impeachment trial. Ferrin said she watched him on MSNBC and was impressed by his intellect and moral compass.

Ferrin looked at UC Berkeley and Times polls that suggested Mr. Garvey had a lead over Mr. Schiff among likely voters, and wondered what qualifications Mr. Garvey would have to serve in Congress. I had doubts. Ferrin, a longtime San Francisco Giants fan, has fond memories of Garvey from when the candidate played Dodgers baseball.

“I remember rooting for him at the time,” Ferrin said. “And I’m still rooting for him.”

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