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How California's U.S. Senate candidates would differ from Feinstein and each other

John Woolfolk, The Mercury News on

Published in News & Features

California voters showed their approval of late Sen. Dianne Feinstein by repeatedly re-electing her over a more than 30-year career that ended with her September death. The leading candidates jostling for her job include three fellow Democrats — all further to her left on some key issues — and a Republican to her right.

When Feinstein became the state’s first woman U.S. senator in 1992 she was considered left of many Democrats with her military-style weapons ban and support for abortion and gay rights, but later was seen as a moderate centrist.

Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of Burbank, Katie Porter of Irvine and Barbara Lee of Oakland, and Republican former Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres first baseman Steve Garvey of Palm Desert, lead the crowded field of contenders in a state whose voters have shifted leftward and Democratic.

“California has become much more Democratic, and much deeper Democratic and a much different kind of Democratic,” said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political science professor.

Polls put Schiff ahead with Porter and Garvey neck and neck for second and Lee close behind. Voting now is underway for the March 5 primary election in which the two candidates with the most votes regardless of party will compete for the seat in November.

Here’s how the four leading candidates compare with Feinstein and each other on some key issues:



Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision reversed its 1973 Roe ruling that created an abortion right, there have been dueling Senate proposals to ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks, and to establish a national abortion right — which Feinstein and California’s other Senator, Alex Padilla, signed on to.

Schiff: Supports national right to abortion.

Porter: Supports national right to abortion.


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