California Senate candidates were questioned in the second debate and asked whether Biden and Trump are too old

Who could replace the late California Senator Feinstein in the 2024 elections? Clockwise, from top left: Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Katie Porter, former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey and Rep. Barbara Lee.
(Los Angeles Times)

California Senate candidates were questioned in the second debate and asked whether Biden and Trump are too old

California politics, elections 2024, homepage news

Benjamin Oresces
Laura J. Nelson

February 13, 2024

With millions of ballots already mailed out in the Golden State,

California’s four leading candidates for U.S. Senate spent their second televised debate on the defensive at times and were pressed to say whether they thought President Biden and former President Trump were too old to run for re-election. Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and

Barbara Lee

(D-Oakland) and Republican candidate Steve Garvey all faced pointed questions from moderators: Porter was asked if she had waited too long to propose solutions to California’s housing crisis; Lee on her support for a $50 minimum wage and whether it would be sustainable for small businesses; and Garvey pressed himself to say whether he would accept Trump’s endorsement if it were offered. Rep.

Adam B. Schiff

(D-Burbank) avoided a similar question, though he was asked whether California’s progressive criminal justice reforms have gone too far in an area where his views have changed significantly since then.

its earliest days

as a hardline Democrat in the California Senate.

Ballots for the primaries were sent out last week. More than 22 million Californians can vote in the election to replace Senator Dianne Feinstein, who died in September.

Recent polls have shown Schiff’s lead widening. A January poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by The Times, found that 21% of likely voters backed Schiff, 17% chose Porter, 13% favored Garvey and 9% favored Lee.

Garvey, who played first base for the Dodgers and San Diego Padres, wants to appeal to the Golden State’s shrinking but significant number of registered Republicans, as well as voters with no party preference and registered Democrats who think their party has . failed to address homelessness, the high cost of living and other pressing issues.

“These are three career politicians who have failed the people,” Garvey said during a discussion about the state’s affordability crisis. With the combined experience of Lee, Porter and Schiff, he said, “they could have solved this problem.”

In the last weeks of the


campaign, Porter and Schiff have unleashed a multimillion-dollar barrage of television and radio advertising. A new ad campaign from Schiff and his supporters takes aim at Garvey, calling him “too conservative for California” and loyal to

former president

Trump a strategy that will likely strengthen the profile of the political newcomer among Republicans.

If Garvey consolidates Republican support, he could finish in the top two in the primary, which is all he needs to advance to November’s general election. For Schiff, boosting Garvey Porter out of the November election could ease his path to victory.

Porter’s campaign ads focus on her reputation in Congress as an irritant to Washington’s entrenched political hierarchy, touting her as someone with an independent streak and not beholden to corporate interests. She mentioned Monday her work on the House Oversight Committee grilling Wall Street CEOs and said she would bring such a sharp investigation to the Senate.

All four candidates were asked whether they thought Biden (81) and Trump (77) were too old to run for a second term. In just as many words they all said no. Biden’s age became a major issue in the 2024 presidential race after a special counsel investigating whether Biden mishandled confidential documents during his previous roles as vice president and senator claimed the president could not remember key milestones in office. his life. “Experience is important, I must say,” said Lee, 77. “As for term limits and age limits, this is a democracy where people have the right to vote for whoever they want to vote for.” “We all have to make that decision in our own minds and with our own eyes and ears,” said Garvey, 75. During the fast-paced, hour-long debate, hosted by San Francisco Nexstar affiliate KRON 4 and carried by news stations across state, Schiff said Trump was unfit for office at any age, and accused Garvey of supporting the former president despite his failed attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Garvey has said he voted for Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections. Asked whether he had spoken to Trump since the launch of his campaign or whether he would accept his endorsement, Garvey initially sidestepped questions but ultimately said he and the former president had not spoken. He declined to say whether he would accept Trump’s support. “These are personal choices,” Garvey said. “I am accountable to God, my wife, my family and the people of California. And I hope you respect that I have personal choices.” Lee largely avoided the fight during the debate, but was asked to explain how her support for a $50 minimum wage, nearly seven times the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, would be economically feasible for small business owners. With California’s high cost of living, she said the wage was necessary for families to make ends meet, but she implied it wouldn’t apply nationally. “I need to focus on what California needs and what the affordability factor is,” she said. Porter was asked why she waited until last week to release a plan to solve California’s housing crisis, one of the biggest problems facing the state. She responded that she had worked on the issue advocating for consumer rights throughout her legal career and since first arriving in Congress in 2018, and that she has firsthand experience


“My own children wonder if they will be able to live in California when they graduate from high school because of the high cost of living,” Porter said. The moderators, KTLA 5’s Frank Buckley and Fox 40’s Nikki Laurenzo, asked Schiff if he thought progressive criminal justice reforms, including eliminating cash bail for non-violent crimes and reducing some crimes to felonies, were “going too far gone’. Schiff said there is “no question that we have a crime problem in California, especially these robberies,” but said the data does not indicate that progressive criminal justice reforms are to blame. Instead, he said, the state should invest more in community policing. “Since I became prosecutor, I have been focused on protecting communities,” Schiff said. “When Mr. Garvey was playing baseball, I was prosecuting cases at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.” A former federal prosecutor,

Schiff campaigned for the Senate in 1996 on a tough-on-crime platform, telling voters he supported the state’s three-strikes law and the death penalty.

Schiff told The Times last week that while “there was certainly a time when I supported the death penalty for those who murdered police officers and those who murdered children,” he no longer supports the death penalty.

After the debate, Lee, who served in the California Legislature at the same time as Schiff, said their conflicting views on the issue offered voters a clear choice. She is referring to sponsoring a bill that would have reformed the state’s “three strikes” law, which Schiff voted against. “The difference between us is that I have looked at criminal justice reform and public safety in a comprehensive way and that higher sentences do not necessarily mean a reduction in crime,” she said.


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