Former baseball star Steve Garvey enters California Senate race

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Former baseball star Steve Garvey is entering California’s U.S. Senate race, hoping to become the first Republican elected to the state’s Senate since 1988.

Garvey, 74, played 14 seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning the 1974 National League Most Valuable Player Award and helping the team win the 1981 World Series. He then played five seasons for the San Diego Padres, leading them to the 1984 World Series.

He discussed his baseball career in a video launching his campaign on Tuesday, saying: “It’s time to get back in the game.”

“Our campaign is focused on quality-of-life issues, public safety and education,” Garvey said in a statement announcing his bid for Senate. “As a U.S. Senator, I will serve with common sense and compassion, and will work to build consensus for good. All Californians.”

Garvey is the latest entrant into the hotly contested field, vying for the seat previously held by the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died in late September.

It’s unclear whether Democratic Sen. Laphonza Butler will run in next year’s primary for a full six-year term. Butler is a former labor leader appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill the remainder of Feinstein’s term.

Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter are already running for the seat, as is Democrat Lexi Reese, a former tech executive. Eric Early, a Republican attorney who unsuccessfully ran for state attorney general last year, is also in the race.

California has not elected a Republican senator since 1988, when Pete Wilson won a second term before being elected governor two years later. Wilson appointee John Seymour was the last Republican to represent California in the Senate, leaving office in 1992 after losing to Feinstein in a special election.

Under California’s system, all candidates compete in the same primary and the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to the general election. The state is now so overwhelmingly blue that two Democrats advanced from the primary in the 2016 and 2018 Senate races.

Yet Republicans have a history of turning star quality into statewide victories. Arnold Schwarzenegger parlayed his movie star status and moderate message into serving as governor from 2003 to 2011. That’s despite the fact that in recent years, Republican celebrity candidates, including former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who is running for gubernatorial recall in 2021, have been less successful.

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