California Senate Race: Meet the candidates

All eyes are on the highly competitive race for California Senate as candidates look to fill the seat once held by the late U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Twenty-seven candidates are running, however the top candidates include prominent Democrats – U.S. Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee — and Republican and former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey.

The latest LA Times/ Berkeley IGS poll released Jan. 12, shows Adam Schiff in first with a four-point lead over Katie Porter. 

Schiff received 21% support, Porter received 17%, Garvey received 13% and Lee rounded out the top four with 9%. According to the poll, 21% of voters remain undecided and another 19% divided their preference among the remaining 23 candidates, none of whom received more than 3%. 

California voters will determine the top two candidates in the state's primary on March 5. The top two, regardless of party, will advance to the general election, which voters will decide on Nov. 5.

Mail ballots for the March 5 primary went out in early February, 

Meet the top four candidates 

Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) 

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff represents California's 30th Congressional District. 

He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000 and currently serves as a senior member of the House Committee on the Judiciary. In 1996, he was elected to the California State Senate and was the Senate’s youngest member when his term began. During his four-year term, Schiff chaired the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Juvenile Justice, and the Joint Committee on the Arts. While serving in the State Senate, he also taught political science courses at Glendale Community College.  

Schiff has been a leading advocate for human rights both locally and around the world. He is the Vice Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and Vice Chair of the Armenian Caucus. As a strong supporter of the Armenian community, he has led efforts in Congress to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide and in 2019 Congress passed his resolution with overwhelming bipartisan support. Schiff was also part of the congressional delegation that traveled to Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in the spring of 2022.

During the 4th quarter of 2023, Schiff's campaign raised nearly $6.3 million. 

Katie Porter (D-Irvine)

Congresswoman Katie Porter represents California's 47th Congressional District.

Porter is a member of the House Oversight Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee, and a member of the bicameral Joint Economic Committee. Porter is a single-working mom of three and is an advocate for working families in Orange County.

In 2012, she was appointed by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris to be California’s independent watchdog against the banks. Porter is also a consumer advocate and finance expert and helped Congress pass the original Credit CARD Act in 2009, which enacted federal protections from abusive credit card fees. Porter has passed legislation that cracked down on Big Pharma’s unfair price hikes and authored new laws to boost accountability in government, raise fees on polluters, improve mental health coverage, make health care more affordable, and honor an Orange County hero.

Her campaign called ‘Shake up the Senate’ aims to ban federal lobbyist contributions, ban corporate PAC donations, ban ‘earmarks’ and ban senators from trading stocks. 

Steve Garvey 

One of the most unique candidates, who is not a career politician, is MLB legend and former LA Dodger Steve Garvey. He is the lead Republican in the race. 

Garvey played as a first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres from 1969 to 1987, was a 10-time All-Star, National League Most Valuable Player in 1974, and National League Championship Series MVP in 1978 and 1984. Garvey was part of the Dodgers when they won four National League pennants and one World Series championship in 1981.

Garvey says he is running for the people of California and is focused on improving the quality of life. His top issues include fighting homelessness, crime and solving the crisis at the US-Mexico Border. 

Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) 

Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents California's 12th District. 

She is the highest-ranking African American woman appointed to Democratic Leadership and serves as Co-Chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. She also serves on the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal spending.

Lee was elected to the California State Assembly in 1990 and served until 1996 when she was then elected to the State Senate

Lee has authored 67 bills and resolutions that were signed into law by Republican Governor Pete Wilson. These included a wide variety of topics, such as public safety, education, healthcare, and environmental protection. Lee also authored and passed the first California Violence Against Women Act and served as a member of the California Commission on the Status of Women.

Lee was also the first African American woman elected to the State Senate from Northern California. She created the California Commission on the Status of African American Males and the California Legislative Black Caucus.

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