Skip to content

Voters to decide who will be California’s next senator


Proposition 1 also on ballot

A varied yet familiar slate of candidates will vie for the United States Senate in Tuesday’s presidential primary election. The leading candidates, Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-30), former baseball star Steve Garvey, Rep. Katie Porter (CA-47) and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-12), are waging campaigns to replace the late Sen. Diane Feinstein in the U.S. Senate. Labor leader Laphonza Butler was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year to fill out Feinstein’s term which ends in November. Butler announced early on that she will not seek a full term.

The top two finishers will square off in the November national election.

Adam Schiff has helped fight for affordable housing, an end to homelessness, lowering health care costs for working families and has been a champion of fighting climate change. Schiff gained national recognition in 2020 as one of the House managers during the impeachment inquiry of former President Donald Trump.

Schiff has served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and was a member of the January 6th Committee. Schiff was the lead author of a package of reforms to prevent future abuses of executive power and reinforce democratic institutions–The Protecting Our ‘Democracy Act–and has been a stalwart proponent of protecting voting rights for all Americans.

Schiff has been endorsed by former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA-11), Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Rep. Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Rep. Brad Sherman (CA-32), the Los Angeles Times, La Opinion, and 17 state labor unions. By the beginning of February, Schiff had raised $14.6 million for his campaign.

Katie Porter has focused her time in Congress reigning in powerful corporations and special interests on Capitol Hill of which she has said wield far too much power and influence on politicians. Porter’s campaign has said it has not taken any funding from corporate political action committees, noting that some 95% of donations have been $100 or less.

Porter touts her efforts to have the government provide free testing for COVID-19 and closing loopholes that insurance companies often use to deny mental health care. Key issues of her campaign include cleaning up corruption, empowering workers, attention to affordable housing and homelessness, fair immigration policies, combating the climate crisis, health care, education, veterans assistance and child care.

Porter has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the San Francisco Chronicle, the California Labor Federation, and the Consumer Federation of California. By the beginning of February, Porter had raised $6.59 million for her campaign.

Steve Garvey is the lone republican among the front runners. Los Angeles sports fans will remember Garvey as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers (1969-1982) and later with the San Diego Padres from 1983-1987. Garvey was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1974, National League Championship Series MVP in 1978 and in 1984, and was a member of the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers World Championship team.

Garvey, a first baseman, was a 10 time All Star and holds the National League record for consecutive games played (1,207). 

Garvey’s “outsider” campaign is focused primarily on quality-of-life issues, public safety and education. Garvey has said combatting homelessness is one of his top priorities if elected. “Temporary fixes,” he said, are not an adequate response. Rather, Garvey advocates for comprehensive care which would include mental health services, addiction treatment and affordable housing.

Among the other issues in Garvey’s platform are national security, supporting Israel in its war in Gaza, supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia, reforming the immigration system, prioritizing water management, and greater attention to California agricultural industry.

Garvey has been endorsed by the San Diego Police Officers Association. At the beginning of February, Garvey had raised just over $300,000 for his campaign.

Barbara Lee is among the longest tenured congresspersons on Capitol Hill. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, Lee is a “progressive champion who does what’s right and not what’s easy.” Lee authored California first Violence Against Women Act in 1994, and voted in 2021 to pass House Resolution 1620 (Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act).

In Congress, Lee has helped pass HIV/AIDS legislation. Most famously, Lee cast the sole vote in Congress against giving former President George W. Bush–and all future presidents– unlimited war powers following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Lee is credited as being the highest-ranking African-American woman appointed to a House leadership position. She was the first Black woman from Northern California to be elected to the California State Assembly and the California State Senate.

Lee has been endorsed by California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. At the beginning of February, Lee had raised $3.35 million for her campaign.

There are a total of 28 candidates for the U.S. Senate seat, including 10 Republicans, 10 Democrats, one American Independent, one Libertarian, five with no party preference and one with no qualified party preference.

California voters on March 5 will also decide on a two-part initiative spearheaded by Gov. Newsom. Proposition 1 would overhaul the state’s mental health system with additional funding for behavioral health treatment facilities and housing to address the state’s homelessness crisis. 

A study conducted last year by the University of California found that almost four in five unhoused Californians reported they experienced a serious mental health condition at some point in their life. If approved, Proposition 1 would allow for a $6.4 billion bond to build additional facilities for mental health care and substance abuse disorder as well as individuals who are homeless. The measure would also address the homeless crisis among veterans.

The measure would reform California’s 20-year-old Mental Health Services Act which established a 1% personal income tax for those who make more than $1 million per year. In effect, Proposition 1 would change how county governments can use funding from the tax by giving the state more control over how the dollars are spent. It would also increase the share of the tax allocated to the state to administer mental health programs.

Right now, 76% of the tax money sent to counties is used for mental health treatments, housing, outreach and crisis programs. The remaining 19% is designated for prevention and intervention programs, such as school-based mental health counseling. Some 5% of the tax goes toward innovation and/or research programs.

If approved, Proposition 1 would allow for an additional 6,800 mental health and additional treatment facilities and build 4,350 housing units, half of which would be designated for veterans. It is also estimated that more than 26,000 outpatient treatments slots will be created. 

The measure has the backing of the California’s Hospital Association, law enforcement, firefighters, California Big City Mayors and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-California.

There is opposition to the measure. Many county officials statewide contend Proposition 1 could threaten existing mental health programs because it could reduce mental health services in minority communities.