Democratic Representative Adam Schiff has taken a clear stance on his preferred opponent for the November elections, unveiling a new TV ad that contrasts himself with Republican former Major League baseball player Steve Garvey.
The ad portrays Garvey as too conservative for California, emphasizing his past support for Trump and alignment with far-right conservatives. Schiff’s strategy mirrors a common approach in politics where candidates support opponents in the primary whom they consider less threatening in a runoff or general election.
Garvey, a first-time contender facing slim chances in deep-blue California, has struggled to raise sufficient funds for his campaign and lacks the resources for TV ads. Schiff’s assistance sends a strong message to Republican voters, suggesting that Garvey is their preferred choice.
This move is crucial as the GOP candidate and Democrat Katie Porter vie for a second-place finish on March 5, aiming to advance to the fall runoff.
Porter criticized Schiff’s strategy, deeming it cynical and driven by fear of losing to her in a November matchup. She accused Schiff of prioritizing his political career, sidelining qualified Democratic women candidates, and boosting a Republican candidate. Porter emphasized the need for honest leadership, not political games, in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).
Nora Walsh-DeVries, Porter’s chief of staff, echoed Porter’s sentiments, expressing confidence that running against Katie Porter in a general election would be a challenging prospect for any candidate.
In response, Schiff’s camp defended its decision to target Garvey, asserting that Garvey’s candidacy poses the most significant threat to Californians.
The campaign argued that Adam Schiff has been a staunch defender of democracy, the economy, and the planet, while Steve Garvey is seen as a potential rubber stamp for Donald Trump’s extreme agenda.
Public polls indicate a close race between Porter and Garvey, and Porter previously went after Garvey during a debate on January 22. Some outside groups supportive of Schiff have considered running ads pointing out Garvey’s past support for Trump.
The tactic of promoting opponents for strategic reasons is not new in California politics, where the top-two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, advance to a fall rematch.
Notably, Governor Gavin Newsom employed a similar strategy in previous races, running contrasting campaigns against Republican candidates to influence the outcome.
Despite the potential benefits of Schiff’s strategy, it has come under scrutiny in the Trump era. Democrats promoting opponents aligned with hard-line MAGA Republicans and election deniers have faced criticism, even as they emphasize the threat to democracy. However, in deep-blue California, where Democrats dominate, such scrutiny may not carry as much weight as in battleground states.