Home>Articles>The Second California U.S. Senate Debate: Three Candidates Face a Make-It-or-Break-It Point

Beautiful view of business center in downtown San Francisco at sunset. (Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock)

The Second California U.S. Senate Debate: Three Candidates Face a Make-It-or-Break-It Point

San Francisco will be the last debate before mail-in ballots arrive

By Evan Symon, February 7, 2024 7:18 am

Details for the second California U.S. Senate debate were revealed on Monday and Tuesday, with Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), former baseball star Steve Garvey (R), Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA), and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) set to meet in San Francisco for what will likely be the most important day on the campaign for the latter three.

Congressman Adam Schiff at the 2024 USC U.S. Senate Debate (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

The debate will be on Monday February 12th from 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by California Inside Politics, the debate will take place at the KRON 4 News Studio in San Francisco and will be moderated by Inside California Politics hosts Frank Buckley and Nikki Laurenzo. The debate can be viewed online, but will also be shown on TV on stations across the state, including KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, KSWB-TV in San Diego, KTXL-TV in Sacramento, KSEE-TV in Fresno, and KGET-TV in Bakersfield.

While there were major concerns that Congresswoman Lee wouldn’t be able to qualify for the ballot, she managed to barely qualify, coming just over the financial and poll percentage minimums. This includes getting 7% of the vote in the latest poll, as opposed to the 5% needed to be in the debate.

Barring a major incident, it is all but certain that Schiff will qualify for the November ballot, as recent polls have shown him with 25% of the vote or more. For the San Francisco debate, all he will have to do is maintain while also slightly chipping away at all three during the night, similar to what he did in last months debate in LA.

For the rest, the San Francisco debate will likely be the most important event in the campaign. Garvey recently receded a bit in the polls to a dead heat with Porter, largely because of his rocky performance in the first debate. Now with the advantage of several weeks of debate prep and coaching, as well as a review of his first debate, his mission in the San Francisco debate is to redeem himself and come out swinging. In the LA debate he did manage to find his footing somewhat in the middle of the debate, and took a few jabs at Lee’s and Porter’s policies. The second debate will have him build off that and be a little more precise in answering questions. Should he do it right, the first-debate jitters should hopefully be over. The fact that the debate is in San Francisco and is full of issues that the GOP has been gaining ground on, such as crime, drug use, and homelessness, should help him.

Senate Candidate Steve Garvey at the 2024 USC U.S. Senate Debate (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

Porter, meanwhile, caught a break in the first debate and managed to move a smidge up in the polls. However, she is still grasping with the reality that, unlike the Schiff v. Porter primary race for first place she originally envisioned, she now has a Garvey v. Porter battle to even make it on the November ballot at all. It’s pretty telling that despite severely outfundraising Garvey, him having a sub-par first debate, and coming in as arguably the most popular candidate amongst younger voters, she is still only tied with Garvey. She will be taking plenty of shots at everyone, as she wants to not only make Garvey look bad, but she wants some of the voter share from Schiff and Lee to overtake him in the polls once and for all. Also expect her to reach out to Latinos, as Garvey is nearly beating her in that demographic to her chagrin.

And finally there is Lee. At this point, she probably knows she can’t win. But, like Porter and Schiff, she gave up her House seat to run, so she is committed. Lee does have some unique advantages in the second debate, such as being the only local candidate to be in it, as she’s from Oakland and the other three are in SoCal. But, with her getting a decent 7% in recent polls, as well as still leading in having the most endorsements, Lee could prove to be the spoiler for Porter and allow Garvey to go in. She’s far left and will continue to grab supporters there, an area usually reserved for Porter, who is stuck in the middle of the Democratic ideologies of Lee and Schiff.

The second Senate debate

The importance of the debate is also not lost on elections experts.

Congresswoman Katie Porter at the 2024 USC U.S. Senate Debate (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

“This will be the most important day in the election,” said Stephanie Lewis, a pollster in Southern California, to the Globe on Tuesday. “This is the last day before vote by-mail ballots go out, so this will be fresh in everyone’s minds. In fact, don’t be surprised to hear that fact from candidates next week, because there will likely be voters with their ballots open watching TV or their screens.

“Schiff doesn’t want Porter in because that will prove to be a very costly race, but he also doesn’t want Garvey in because that fact that he will be there will show that the GOP is still alive and kicking in California. And if they do surprisingly well, it could show, gasp, improvement from GOP candidates. Garvey and Porter, meanwhile, just both want to be in. And Lee? Well, like Schiff, who she goes after more will show not support, but how they want to hurt Schiff.

“With Porter, like I said, there would be a loss of a ton of money on both sides. The Dems would cannibalize themselves since this is an open race. It won’t be like Feinstein facing Democrats and still doing well. With Garvey, Schiff would be embarrassed if he did too well. Or, worst case for him, if he had a scandal and Garvey managed to get one hell of a darkhorse victory over him. Schiff would be ruined. For the GOP, that’s a bit of wishful thinking, but having Garvey get above 40% and win parts of his former House district would certainly damper his standing.

“It will be one crazy hour on Monday.”

The Globe will have coverage of the debate on Monday similar to their coverage of the first debate last month.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Evan Symon
Spread the news:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *