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Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks during the National Union of Healthcare Workers Senate Candidate Forum in downtown Los Angeles, California, on October 8, 2023. | Source: Tom Williams / Getty

The U.S. Senate in California just got another candidate among an already crowded field of hopefuls looking to replace the nation’s newest U.S. Senator.

But Tuesday’s addition of former Major League Baseball pitcher Steve Garvey, who is running as a Republican, wasn’t greeted warmly by at least two Democrats in the race who warned about Donald Trump’s influence on the upstart conservative candidate.

Garvey, a former National League Most Valuable Player who starred in the 1970s and 1980s for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, announced his candidacy in a video replete with baseball imagery.

In the video, Garvey suggested California has fallen from the one-time “heartbeat of America” to “just a murmur.”

Promising “a common sense campaign,” Garvey used baseball as a metaphor for the U.S. Senate race in California.

“It’s time to get off the bench. It’s time to put the uniform on. It’s time to get back in the game,” he said.


Reacting to Garvey’s announcement, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee – a candidate in the race – suggested he was out of his league and highlighted his allegiance with Trump as a red flag for his fledgling campaign.

“An inexperienced, pro-Trump, anti-choice Republican who refuses to call out clear threats to our democracy? For US Senate in California?” Lee asked in a social media post. “HARD PASS.”


U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who is also running for the U.S. Senate seat that was previously held by Dianne Feinstein for decades until her death last month, reportedly warned Tuesday in a message to potential donors about Garvey’s link to Trump.

“Garvey appears to be taking a cue from another celebrity Republican with no political experience, Donald Trump,” Schiff wrote. “And given Trump’s determination to make sure I don’t become California’s Senator next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trump and MAGA world get solidly behind Garvey. I will need your help to ensure Garvey and Trump feel the sting of losing on March 5, 2024.”

Schiff also took to social media to continue Garvey’s baseball metaphor at the former MLB star’s expense.

“I have a new Republican opponent – Steve Garvey,” Schiff posted on the app formerly known as Twitter. “Before he was a multi-millionaire Republican celebrity, he was a first baseman. Based on his announcement, it sounds like he’s ready to take up the fight for everyone born on third base — thinking they hit a triple. Go figure.”


Garvey has said he voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.

Polling and fundraising statuses suggest that Garvey has an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate race.

Schiff leads all candidates at 20%, with fellow Congress member Katie Porter coming in second at 15%. Lee trails them both at 8%, according to the most recent polling conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California. Schiff has a campaign treasure chest of nearly $30 million, according to recent figures on Ballotpedia. Porter has more than $10 million and Lee has nearly $1.5 million.

In both polling and fundraising, Garvey is at zero.

Days after Feinstein’s death, Laphonza Butler was sworn in as her interim replacement following California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointing the former labor leader to represent the Golden State in the U.S. Senate. The appointment made Butler the third-ever Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

However, it remains unclear whether Butler will also declare herself a candidate in the California Senate race. Butler is expected to make her decision at some point following Feinstein’s funeral on Thursday.

Regardless of who is running for the U.S. Senate seat in California, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley has already predicted the winner would be Lee.

Congratulating Butler, Pressley suggested she wouldn’t be in the U.S. Senate beyond the term of her historic appointment.

“I look forward to your partnership & to having two incredible Black women serve consecutively when we elect @BarbaraLeeForCA as the next Senator from California,” Pressley posted on social media.

The California U.S. Senate primary is scheduled to take place in March. The top two candidates will then advance to the general election in November 2024.


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