LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former baseball MVP Steve Garvey entered the race to replace the late California senator on Tuesday. Dianne Feinsteingiving Republicans a touch of star quality on the ballot in a heavily Democratic state where the GOP hasn’t won a Senate race in 35 years.
Garvey, 74, launched his campaign with a video filled with baseball imagery that commemorated his career as a perennial All-Star who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. It also signaled that he would turn to the political center in a party dominated by former President Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s leading presidential candidate who could join Garvey in the election next year.
“I never played for Democrats, Republicans or Independents. I played for y’all,” Garvey said in the video, in which he also alluded to issues plaguing the state homelessness To crime. “It will be a common sense campaign.”
In an interview, Garvey said he had voted for Trump in the past but had not yet committed to a vote in the upcoming 2024 presidential campaign. He didn’t answer directly when asked if he considered himself part of the Trump wing of the GOP. Trump lost California in landslides in 2016 and 2020, despite being supported by millions of Republican and conservative-leaning voters in the state.
“I run the Steve Garvey campaign,” he said. “We need to bring people together again.”
Garvey’s entry into a race gives Republicans a household name among many Californians, even though he may be unknown to millions of younger voters. After an 18-year major league career, he played his final major league game in 1987 and was named National League MVP in 1974.
Still, he will face the challenges that come with any first-time candidate: raising millions of dollars for television advertising and building an organization to win voters in a field that already includes Democratic U.S. representatives. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff And Barbara Lee. The race could get even more complicated if Sen. Laphonza Butler, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently appointed to the seat after Feinstein’s death, decides to run.
He took a number of familiar Republican positions, including calling for a temporary closure of the border with Mexico at a time when polls suggest this is the case widespread frustration with President Joe Biden’s handling of immigration. He was critical of it advance of the state to ban the sale of most new gasoline cars by 2035, saying: “That’s not realistic.”
Democrats hope the abortion issue will galvanize the party’s base after the abortion law Supreme Court After overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision last year, Garvey said he did not support a nationwide abortion ban.
“The people of California have … spoken about abortion, and as their representative, I promise to always preserve the voice of the people,” he said. Asked if he supported abortion rights, he added: “The people have spoken, and I will promise to stand up for it.”
As a Republican, he inevitably starts out as an outsider. Democrats hold all statewide offices and dominate the legislative and congressional delegations. Republicans — who are outnumbered by Democratic voters in the state by about two to one — have not won a statewide race for office since 2006.
California conducts a primary election in which the two candidates with the most votes, regardless of political party, advance to the general election. In the last two Senate elections in California, Republican candidates performed so poorly that only Democrats appeared in the November vote. The last Republican to win a Senate election in the state was in 1988.
However, given the large number of candidates who will share the vote in the March 5 primary, it is possible that Garvey slips in the November general election. He would need to win over Republican and conservative voters to his candidacy, and he faces competition from attorney Eric Early, who previously unsuccessfully ran for attorney general and Congress.
Garvey confirmed in June that he was considering entering the Senate race and that his candidacy was widely expected.
Garvey has flirted with the possibility of entering politics before, including after his retirement from baseball, when he announced a possible run for the U.S. Senate but never became a candidate.
In the interview, he said he was motivated to run this time because of increased “quality of life stress” that has spread across the state, adding that his campaign will be based on reducing crime, improving… Education and combating inflation and reducing the rising price of gasoline based prices.
He blamed the long-term school closures during the pandemic falling student test Scores.
For young children, the extended school closures “impeded not only learning but also social interaction,” he said. “We are behind in both areas.”
When Garvey confirmed in June that he was considering the race, Early issued a statement saying the former baseball star had “more personal baggage than Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner” – an apparent reference to Garveys’ 1980s sex scandals Reputation as “Mr. Clean,” a nickname that referred to his buttoned-up image from his Dodger days. He admitted then have two children with women he wasn’t married to.
When asked about that time, Garvey said: “I think our life is a journey. I think there are chapters. Sure, I’ve had difficult times here and there. I learned from it. And I think I was stronger.”