The three Democratic members of Congress running for California’s Senate seat blasted Republican candidate Steve Garvey over his support for former President Trump in a debate on Monday.
Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, all California Democrats, took turns on the debate stage calling out Garvey over voting for Trump twice and his attacks on President Biden.
“Mr. Garvey, you won’t tell the public whether you’re going to support this man again,” Porter questioned. “You voted for him twice. You saw what he did on Jan. 6. You have to see what a threat he is to the country. I can understand you don’t want to alienate MAGA world by saying you’re against him, but you also won’t stand up to him.”
Garvey, a Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres player and political novice, appeared thrown off by the attacks. He responded by justifying his decision to vote for Trump in 2016 and 2020 with arguments against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Biden.
“They’re trying to paint me into the corner. Trying to call me MAGA,” Garvey said of his debate rivals. “I make my own decisions. I voted for Donald Trump because I thought he was the best person.”
Garvey said that Clinton “talked down to the people of this country” in 2016 and that Biden “stayed in a basement” during his 2020 campaign.
“I don’t believe Joe Biden has been good for this country,” Garvey added.
The three Democrats used the moment to hit Garvey over Trump’s stance against abortion rights and over the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
When asked who he would support in 2024 between Biden and Trump, Garvey demurred.
“Once a Dodger, always a Dodger,” Porter jabbed. “Two and a half minutes of the time to talk about substantive issues in this debate by refusing to answer the question. Ballots go out in six weeks. Mr. Garvey, this is not the minor leagues, who will you vote for?”
He again refused to give a definitive answer, saying he will leave the decision until November.
Garvey has come under fire for not having clear political positions. He does not list specific policies on his campaign site, and has made vague and contradictory statements on his political platform.
When asked about his beliefs earlier in the debate, Garvey jokingly said he disagreed with Senate Republicans on “everything.”
The partisan dynamic could be crucial in the primary election on March 5. The top two candidates, no matter their party, will advance to the general election.
Schiff leads the field in early polls, nine points ahead of Garvey in a Politico/Morning Consult poll last month. Butler and Porter trailed Garvey by two and five points, respectively.
The race is set to determine the full time replacement for the late Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), who died in October. Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) was appointed to the seat, but announced that she will not seek election.
The primary will likely be the most expensive ever at is conclusion. Porter and Schiff are the top two Senate fundraisers for the 2024 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data, pulling in $22 million and $21 million, respectively, as of October. Lee raised $3.4 million in that period, while Garvey is yet to report fundraising.