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Who is Steve Garvey, the Republican Senate candidate in California?

Republican Steve Garvey is one of two candidates for U.S. Senate in California, along with Rep. Adam Schiff (D), who will advance to the general election in November. Both are vying to fill the seat formerly held by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who died last year.

Garvey, 75, has no political background but garnered the second-highest vote total in a crowded nonpartisan primary on Super Tuesday that included Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter. (In California, all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, and the top two finishers advance to the general election.)

Here’s what you need to know about Garvey.

He is a former professional baseball player
Garvey is a former major league star, originally from Florida, who played first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1969-82) and San Diego Padres (1983-87). With no political experience before launching his Senate campaign, Garvey hoped his name recognition would give him a boost, and he has used baseball metaphors throughout the race to evoke his sports background.

“I played in front of millions of fans. I never played for Democrats or Republicans or independents — I played for all of you,” Garvey said in his campaign launch video.

“What you all are feeling tonight is what it’s like to hit a walk-off home run. Kind of like San Diego in ’84,” Garvey said at his campaign’s watch party Tuesday night.

He voted for Trump twice

Garvey has said that he voted for Donald Trump twice for president but has not said if he would do so again. Garvey also told the Los Angeles Times that he did not have an opinion on the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, in which a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol seeking to stop Joe Biden’s electoral win.

Many of his answers in debates have been short on substance. When given the chance to critique Trump’s foreign policy record as president, he said he wasn’t concerned “with any one being” and wanted to promise Californians that he would “do everything to maintain your security.”

Schiff’s ads have focused almost entirely on Garvey’s votes for Trump and the notion that his candidacy in November could put control of the Senate in play for the GOP.

He has been largely absent from the campaign trail
Garvey has held almost no public campaign events since entering the race in October, aside from a brief publicity tour in December that included a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border and a visit to the Salton Sea, where he heard about environmental concerns.

In January, he toured several homeless encampments with cameras in tow and met with Jewish leaders in the Bay Area to express his support for Israel. But sightings of Garvey on the campaign trail have been few and far between.

He got a boost in the primary — from Democrats

In the final weeks of the primary race, Schiff and his allies spent more than $11 million on ads that elevated Garvey’s profile, a tactic that Porter decried as “brazenly cynical.”

Schiff’s campaign took advantage of the fact that Democratic voters were splitting their vote in the three-way race among him, Porter and Lee. His ads framing Garvey as a conservative Republican who had voted for Trump twice allowed the former baseball player to quickly consolidate GOP support without spending any of his own money on television ads.

“My opponent has been advertising that he wants me,” Garvey said of Schiff. “He’s mistaking kindness for weakness. I would suggest that he keep in mind that old saying: Be careful what you ask for.”

He faces long odds in the general election

Republicans have not won a Senate race in California in 35 years, and GOP voters make up less than a quarter of California’s electorate. In an attempt to broaden his appeal, Garvey has kept his public campaign platform seemingly moderate, limited to goals such as “solving the homelessness crisis” and “improving Californians’ quality of life.” On his campaign website, he makes no mention of his stance on abortion. He has said he opposes abortion but that he would not support a federal ban.

In televised debates with his Democratic opponents, Garvey has offered only vague notions about his agenda in a campaign he says is about “compassion and consensus-building.” Though Schiff’s ads portray Garvey as “too conservative” for California because of his votes for Trump in 2016 and 2020, the former ballplayer has said he will not specify his political leanings regarding the presidential race, describing his vote as a “personal choice.”***

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