Former Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres First Baseman Steve Garvey announced on Thursday that he is seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2024, potentially bringing a big-name Republican in to what has been a mostly Democratic dominated race so far.
Garvey, originally from Florida, began his baseball career in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s as a batboy for several Major League Baseball (MLB) teams in Florida for spring training, including the then-Brooklyn Dodgers. Following playing for Michigan State in College, Garvey was then drafted by the LA Dodgers in 1966. He proceeded to play for them at the Major League level from 1969 to 1982, followed by a stint with the San Diego Padres from 1983-1987. During his career he made the All-Star Games 10 times, won the MLB MVP award, and won the World Series with the Dodgers in 1981.
Following his baseball career, Garvey went into media, specifically going after sports marketing, branding, and television production. While he has not entered a race for public office before, he does come in with business and non-profit experience having been on the Board of the Baseball Assistance Team, a non-profit organization aimed at helping former professional baseball players through financial and medical hardships, since 1990. He has tested the political waters before for possible runs in the past, and has been known to be a draw for many GOP fundraisers in Southern California, such as signing baseballs during fundraisers for lawmakers such as Congresswoman Michelle Steel.
However, with a major 2024 Senate race for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) seat now on the horizon, Garvey decided to explore a run in 2024 on Thursday. Through a spokesman, Garvey noted that “Out of control cost-of-living and high taxes, rising crime and lack of opportunities” were major issues for him, and that a final decision should be given on a run in the next few weeks.
“He is seriously considering entering the race,” said Garvey’s political consultant Andy Gharakhani. “He’s concerned about the same issues facing all Californians, out of control cost-of-living and high taxes, rising crime and lack of opportunities. He is being contacted by leaders up and down the state. They’re recruiting him to run from both sides, Republican and Democrat, and he’s seriously considering it. We should have a decision made here in the next few weeks.”
If made official, Garvey would square off against the big three Democrats of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), as well as Republican attorney Eric Early. With name recognition, popularity in the state, and a built-in base thank to his baseball career and fundraising history, a Garvey run could potentially be a challenge for the other candidates.
“Garvey would be a huge wild card in the race,” Matt Saunders, a political consultant who helps advise candidates from entertainment and athletic fields, told the Globe Thursday. “A big-name Republican could really break apart the primary. The three Democrats there have long been looking at a two-Democrat race in November, but Garvey could really change that.”
“Now, he does come in with some baggage. Lack of political experience for one, but his non-profit work and business experience, not to mention all of his previous fundraising, could soften that blow. There is a scandal from 1989 over parentage issues of his children and an early 2000’s court case over liability in which he was ultimately found not guilty in could be brought against him in such a run.”
“But, overall, this isn’t just another run-of-the-mill former athlete announcing a run, as he does have political connections in this. It will also be harder to win as a Republican for sure, since the last GOP Senator to win in California was Pete Wilson in 1988. But remember that athletes have won Senate races before. Jim Bunning, Bill Bradley. So Garvey is definitely possible.”
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