Adam Schiff and Steve Garvey advance from 31-candidate top-two primary for U.S. Senate in California

Adam Schiff (D) and Steve Garvey (R) advanced from the 31-candidate March 5 top-two primary for U.S. Senate in California. As of March 6, Schiff received 33.2% of the vote and Garvey received 32.5%.

Incumbent Laphonza Butler (D) announced she would not run for re-election on October 19, 2023. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Butler to replace Dianne Feinstein (D), who died on Sept. 29, 2023. Butler was sworn in on Oct. 3 of that year. This was the first open race for California’s Class I U.S. Senate seat since 1992.

Following Schiff and Garvey, Katie Porter (D) finished third with 13.8% of the vote and Barbara Lee (D) finished fourth with 7.4%.

Lee, Porter, and Schiff are members of California’s congressional delegation. Garvey was a professional baseball player. The Democratic candidates campaigned on democracy reform, climate change, the economy, and healthcare. Garvey’s priorities were quality-of-life issues, public safety, and education.

The top-two primary was for the six-year term beginning on January 3, 2025. Also on the primary ballot was a special top-two primary for the remainder of Feinstein’s term, which lasts until January 3, 2025. Lee, Porter, Schiff, and Garvey ran in both the special and regular primary elections. In addition to advancing from the regular primary, Schiff and Garvey also advanced from the special primary as the top two candidates.

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Shira Stein and Joe Garofoli said the three Democratic candidates voted the same way 94% of the time over the past four and a half years in Congress. They differed most often on foreign policy, the military, and immigration. For example, “they had a rare moment of disunion over the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas. Schiff expressed unequivocal support for Israel while Lee called for a cease-fire and offered prayers for both Israelis and Palestinians killed.” Porter said she supported a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza, with conditions including “release of all hostages, durable security for Israel, and an end to Hamas’ control of Gaza.”

This is the second time in two years that four races were held (two primaries and two generals) in California in one year for the same U.S. Senate seat. In 2022, Sen. Alex Padilla (D), who was appointed to fill Kamala Harris’ (D) Senate seat, ran for the remainder of Harris’ term, as well as for the new, six-year term.