Adam Schiff’s Senate campaign announced a multimillion dollar, statewide ad buy for a spot that is most notable for who it singles out: Steve Garvey, the former Dodger great who is running as the highest profile Republican in a Democratic-dominated state.
In the spot, the narrator says, “Steve Garvey, the leading Republican, is too conservative for California — he voted for Trump, twice, and supported Republicans for years, including far right conservatives.
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“Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat, defended democracy against Trump and the insurrectionists.”
Isn’t it to be expected that Schiff, one of the most prominent Trump foes in Congress, would want to highlight Garvey’s backing of the former Celebrity Apprentice host in the past two elections?
Perhaps, but these are the dynamics of an open primary, where the top two finishers in the March vote will go on to the general election, regardless of party.
Pundits have long been saying that it would be in Schiff’s interest to have Garvey, or any GOPer, as a general election rival in November, rather than face an intra-party squabble with Porter or Lee. No Republican has been elected statewide in California since 2006.
But Schiff’s war chest is far greater than that of Garvey who, according to the latest campaign finance reports, has few resources to wage a statewide ad campaign.
As of Dec. 31, Schiff’s campaign had a whopping $34.9 million cash on hand, while Garvey’s bid had just $308,160, according to the latest data from the Federal Election Commission. Porter had $13.2 million, and Democrat Barbara Lee had $815,960.
Not too long after Schiff’s ad debuted, the campaign of his main Democratic rival, Katie Porter, accused him of a “cynical attempt” to boost Garvey, as more Republicans would be drawn to the idea of turning out for someone who is “too conservative for California” and who voted for Trump twice. At the most recent debate, Garvey sparred with Schiff and other candidates, driving up his publicity.
A poll of likely voters released today by USC showed Schiff leading with 25% of the vote, and Porter and Garvey tied at 15%, and Lee was fourth at 7%.
Porter wrote on Twitter, “Adam Schiff knows he will lose to me in November. That’s what this brazenly cynical ad is about — furthering his own political career, boxing out qualified women candidates, and boosting a Republican candidate to do it. We need honest leadership, not political games.”
Back in 2018, then-lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom took some heat from Democratic rivals for running a primary ad that highlighted Republican John Cox’s support for Trump. Newsom ended up going against Cox and winning the general election with almost 62% of the vote.
Matt Shupe, Garvey’s campaign spokesman, said in response to the Schiff ad, “Steve Garvey’s campaign has always been and will continue to be about bringing all Californians together for commonsense, compassionate solutions to today’s real problems, not trite political hatchet jobs. Californians are tired of this divisive rhetoric that aims to separate us into simple buckets against ourselves rather than unite us in common cause to better all of our lives. This is why Steve Garvey continues to rise in the polls.”
Among the two leading candidates for U.S. Senate — there are two very different visions for California.
Watch our latest ad ⤵︎ pic.twitter.com/mCm6LT1P3o
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiff) February 1, 2024
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