Since our last recap by the Globe in October, the 2024 U.S. Senate Race in California has taken several new twists and turns. Candidates coming in, others saying they aren’t running, gradually shifting polls and the quickly approaching December entrance deadline have all been part of the flurry of activity in the past month. As of Wednesday, this is where the race currently stands.
Who is in?
Democrats are now at 15 candidates. The gang of three, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA), and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) are still there there of course, with Schiff and Porter still comfortably at the one and two positions. The biggest candidate to join in the past month was Los Angeles TV anchorwoman Christina Pascucci. While she didn’t make all that big of a splash in the past few weeks, a new UC Berkeley poll released earlier this week found that she is currently at 1%, sitting at a tied 4th place amongst Democratic candidates along with former Google executive and investor Lexi Reese. Not that big, but big enough to be noticed by the other candidates.
The GOP, meanwhile, bumped up their number of candidates to 11. The long awaited entrance of former Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres First Baseman Steve Garvey into the race immediately sparked a change of support within the party, and even siphoned off some moderate and borderline Democrat support to boot. The two-candidate dogfight of Attorney and 2022 GOP candidate for Attorney General Eric Early and businessman and Coast Guard veteran James Bradley quickly shifted to a massive Garvey lead amongst Republicans. In terms of polling, Garvey currently has 10% of the vote, leaving him only 5 points behind Schiff, several points ahead of both Early and Bradley, and in an overall third place, as he overtook long-time third place Lee.
Stefan Simchowitz, a well known LA art dealer, also entered the race recently, but has yet to appear on polls. There are also three third party candidates on the ballot, but not have yet to reach the 1% support threshold.
Who may be in?
Following Garvey officially going in and Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA) bowing out, there are no big names in the final month or so from any party.
Five Democrats, three Republicans, and one third party candidate have paperwork filed, so some last minute names could be added to the ballot. A surprise candidate is still likely however. In past years, larger candidates have waited until the last minute to go in as a way to catch other candidates off guard, and the 2024 Senate race could prove that to be true.
But, overall, no one major on the horizon. Or, at least, no one big enough to take on Porter, Schiff, Garvey, or other ones in the top tiers.
Who is out?
The only pull out this month was Butler. Both parties were on edge over her joining the race, with Democrats not wanting her in due to the havoc that an incumbent Senator would play on the race, and Republicans seeing her as someone who would only further split the Democratic vote. But, i the end, she dropped out, in part due to the the uphill climb that starting a campaign from scratch this close to the election would be.
Right now, no one else has hinted of a drop out, although several smaller candidates may before the election to help consolidate support for larger candidates should the race grow tighter.
Who is backing who?
Endorsements continued to come in throughout October, with Schiff, Lee, and Porter largely gobbling up the last state lawmakers who have yet to make a decision. Lee has a wide array of endorsements with most higher state officials, 21 congressional members, 7 state Senators, 11 Assemblymembers, 10 mayors of major Californian cities, a variety of famous individuals including actors and activists, and over a dozen political organizations. Among her most prominent supporters are California Attorney General Rob Bonta, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and United Farm Workers co-Founder Dolores Huerta.
Congressman Schiff, meanwhile, has kept up with the number of endorsements Lee received, even gaining ground on state lawmakers. He has the endorsement of 30 Congressional members, 13 state Senators, 15 Assemblymembers, several unions, and several major local leaders. Bigger names in his corner include Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and the IATSE union. However, in the last month, he has also lost a few endorsements due to his support of Israel in the Israel-Hamas war.
The third major candidate, Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA), has been leading most polls in a neck-to-neck race with Schiff, but has only received a handful of endorsements. However, some of the names are prominent, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland).
Republicans, meanwhile, have seen a growing race for endorsements. Early still leads in endorsements, snagging many county GOP groups and even the Californian Republican Assembly. But Garvey’s growing lead could mean a shift is coming, especially as election day nears. Endorsements by former teammates in particular could boost Garvey in the LA and San Diego areas.
What is coming up next?
With Butler and Garvey now all sorted out, there’s nothing much left but the mad dash until the Primary election on March 5, 2024.
Polls are giving an indication of the growing shifts in the race. The new IGS poll found that, while Porter and Schiff are still neck to neck in the race, they have a slightly less percentage than in previous polls, coming in with 17% and 16% respectively. Newcomer Garvey burst out of the gate with 10%, leaving behind the still struggling Lee at 9%. Rounding out the rest of the major candidates, Bradley maintained a 7%, Early received 4%, and both Reese and the newest candidate, TV anchorwoman Christina Pascucci (D), got 1% of the poll vote. Undecided voters still reign supreme, however, as a critical total of 30% said that they didn’t know who to vote for in the primary just yet.
And that is who the target will be in the coming months as campaigns ramp up. Expect to see a lot of TV, radio, billboard, internet, and streaming ads between now and March. Most of the top candidates have decent enough coffers to barrage voters with ads, and lawn signs will be up everywhere from Yreka to San Ysidro. Schiff and Porter are still the two favorites, but the GOP has been shown to be taking advantage of the split. Late scandals, resurgences, and even surprise endorsements can shift this race still. A Porter-Schiff race is still not a guarantee, especially with Garvey at the edge of the margin of error.
Expect a lot of the usual campaign work throughout the rest of the fall and the winter. Democrats need to figure out just who their candidates will be and level support, while the GOP needs to figure out a way in. And, as said before, that means a lot of ads and campaign appearances.
The primary election is to be held in less than four months on March 5th.
- Former SJ Mayor Sam Liccardo Officially Announces Candidacy For Congressional Seat - December 8, 2023
- Hunter Biden Indicted In LA Over Federal Tax Charges - December 8, 2023
- New Senate Poll Shows Adam Schiff Increasing Overall Lead - December 8, 2023