"Once a Dodger, always a Dodger," Rep. Katie Porter quipped after accusing Steve Garvey, a legendary former baseball player in the state who split time between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres and the debate's lone Republican representative, of dodging questions about whether he supports former President Trump during Monday's FOX 11 debate.
Porter was joined by Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., in taking shots at the political newcomer, who has been evasive about who he plans to vote for in the 2024 presidential election.
The jabs came as Garvey looked to gain momentum in California's blanket Senate primary, which in March will send the top two candidates to a runoff in November's general election.
Garvey, who used several baseball references throughout the evening, accused his opponents of engaging in identity politics and likened their behavior to the infamous Houston Astros cheating scandal.
"You’re banging on that trash can, just like the Astros did," Garvey said as all three of his opponents took shots in his direction.
Schiff currently leads most of the polling in the race, while Garvey, Porter and Lee have fought to position themselves in second place. Only two of the candidates can move on to November's general election, regardless of party.
Porter and Lee also sought to highlight their progressive credentials in the dependably blue state, attacking Schiff as a Washington and corporate insider.
"Representative Schiff may have prosecuted big oil companies before he came to Congress, but when he got to Congress he cashed checks from companies like BP, from fossil fuel companies," Porter said of Schiff during one exchange on climate change. "I have delivered results on climate in my few years in Congress."
That attack earned a quick retort from Schiff, who argued Porter had no problem accepting his financial support during her own run for office.
"First of all, I gave that money to you, Katie Porter… and the only response I got was thank you," Schiff shot back. "At the end of the day, it's about what have you gotten done? I didn't hear anything from Representative Porter about anything she's actually accomplished. I've taken on oil companies and prosecuted them. I've gotten mass transit built. I've worked on bipartisan legislation to expand open space. At the end of the day, what California needs more than anything else is not more talking points. They need action, and they need action in particular on climate."
The four candidates are looking to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who passed away last year after serving in the Senate for three decades.
Voting in California's primary closes on March 5, with voting centers opening for early in-person voting on Feb. 24. California residents can also vote by mail, with ballot drop-off locations opening on Feb. 6.