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The 2024 California U.S. Senate Race: Where It Currently Stands

A near reisgnation and a DUI brought forth a hectic month for the race

By Evan Symon, May 12, 2023 6:05 am

Since the last report by the Globe in April, the 2024 race for U.S. Senate for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat has continued to evolve, with more candidates looking for a possible run, others confirming they’re out, and some making plays to garner more attention early on. The lines are still blurred for many with the near-replacement of Feinstein early on through a possible early resignation. The Globe takes another look at where the race currently stands in mid-May 2023.

Who is in?

Joining the big three Democrats of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA),  Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) was Attorney and 2022 GOP candidate for Attorney General Eric Early, becoming the first name Republican to enter the race.

“I’m running for all the forgotten Californians, all the forgotten Americans, and it crosses party lines,” said Early last month. “Honestly, there are tens of millions of people in this country and millions in California who feel like we’ve been left behind.”

Along with a few other minor Democrats and Republicans, there is also now one third party candidate, non-profit Director Fepbrina Keivaulqe Autiameineire, in the race.

Who may be in?

While relatively few others have joined in the race, the number of potential candidates is still pretty high, with prominent names for both the Democrats and Republicans still not ruling out runs.

For the Democrats, Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA), Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Governor Gavin Newsom have all not ruled out runs as of May 11th. For the GOP, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, 2022 California State Controller candidate Lanhee Chen, and State Senator and 2022 Governor Candidate Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) are all also still not officially out.

While there are some other names out there as speculation, these are currently the largest names without a firm yes/no decision.

Who is out?

Two possible candidates bowed out of any potential run in the last few weeks. Radio host and 2021 Gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder declined to run in favor of a 2024 presidential run. For the Democrats, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, once something of a favorite to run, opted for a 2026 Gubernatorial run instead.

More decisions are likely to come soon, as major financial  decisions will need to come soon for a 2024 run for Senate, especially with the big 3 Democrats rapidly inflating war chests for the oncoming primary election.

Who is backing who?

A pattern emerged even more in the past month on endorsements. Barbara Lee gained several, with her getting the backing of many state and local lawmakers, along with a high number of out of state members of Congress. Meanwhile, Schiff has gotten the support of almost the entire Californian Democratic Congressional member bloc, along with many unions and a high number of state lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly that is close to Lee’s numbers.

Porter, meanwhile, has only gotten a scattered handful of endorsements, with two of her largest backers, Congresswoman Buffy Wicks (D-CA) and Attorney General Rob Bonta co-endorsing her with Lee.

GOP endorsements have not really come out yet, with many waiting to see the full list of candidates before making a decision, as many believe the race will likely go to a Democrat.

The race did have two huge speed bumps in the past week. Calls for Senator Feinstein to resign reached new highs following news that she would miss out on several weeks worth of Senate and Senate Judiciary Committee votes, angering Democrats and Republicans alike. Democrats, led by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tried to get her to resign as a result, but they ultimately failed, with Feinstein returning to the District earlier this week and voting for the first time since February. Had she resigned, Governor Newsom would have made the interim Senate pick, possibly giving his pick the upper hand of incumbency in the 2024 race.

The other major hiccup occurred earlier this month when Senator Dave Min (D-Orange County) was arrested for a DUI in Sacramento. As he is the main Democratic candidate in Katie Porter’s district next year, this could spell disaster for the Democrats in the tight district, with Porter possibly having to do something drastic to keep the seat in the control of Democrats. His arraignment is in July, so decisions around it may not come until then.

What is coming up next?

Things are expected to solidify in the coming months, with a major GOP candidate being anticipated. In addition, new polls are expected, as are new fundraising results due by early July.

There are some possible surprise candidates who may be jumping in too, but for right now, it is a hunt for endorsements and fundraising in preparation for when the race really begins in the Primary next year. With stronger Republicans now starting to enter, Schiff, Lee, and Porter will likely need to rethink their strategy, as they are right now banking on a two-Democrat race in fall 2024.

The Feinstein near-resignation scared many last month, and with many now fundraising more and more, we can only see what another major incident can bring to this race.

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Evan Symon
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One thought on “The 2024 California U.S. Senate Race: Where It Currently Stands

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