Inside California Politics takes an in-depth look into the U.S. Senate race to replace the retiring Dianne Feinstein in the special program, “Inside California Politics: The Race for the Senate.”
All three joined Inside California Politics to share the message that they have for California voters.
The primary election is in March 2024, and in a recent poll by Inside California Politics and Emerson College Polling, Schiff and Porter are in a statistical tie as the top choice of respondents, with Lee several percentage points behind.
The poll found that 47% of respondents are still undecided about their pick for senator, although almost two-thirds of voters think Feinstein should resign before the end of her current term, which ends in January 2025.
All three major Democratic candidates have been hitting the campaign trail since announcing their candidacy earlier this year, vying for a Senate seat that has been held by Feinstein for the last three decades.
“At the end of the day, I think voters will decide that what is most important to them is someone who can get things done for them,” Schiff said.
Schiff received a lot of attention as lead prosecutor during former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
Still, he stresses that his more than two decades in the House of Representatives will help him hit the ground running if elected to the Senate.
“I’m proud to have brought back millions (of dollars) to Californians for finding shelter for homeless people, to support mental health. These are the kinds of concrete legislative successes that distinguish me in this field,” Schiff said.
Porter has been highlighting her relative newcomer status to Congress, telling Inside California Politics that her candidacy reflects a new generation.
“I am different because I have not been in Washington for a long time. I am relatively new. I have been in politics since 2018, and so I do politics a bit differently,” Porter said.
Porter is known for using what she describes as her “whiteboard of justice,” used to take on corporations she argues need to answer tough questions and face more oversight.
“I don’t take corporate PAC money and I never have. That is a big difference between me and the other two candidates. I really lead a great example to try to clean up government,” Porter said.
In spite of Schiff’s and Porter’s comments, Lee says she is the one who can best shake up the government.
She argues she has already done it, pointing to her long progressive tenure in Congress, including her record as the only Congressmember to vote against using military force as a response to the 9/11 attacks, something she says proves she is an independent thinker ready for today’s political climate.
“I think people can look at my record and say ‘Wait a minute, her experience means something,’” Lee said.
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Lee says it is her experience as a Black woman that would set her apart in a Senate that has zero Black women since Kamala Harris’s departure upon being elected vice president.
When asked how she would represent all Californians, Lee responded, “That’s how Black women are. We fight for everyone. Not to have the lens and perspective of Black women in the Senate (is) a shame and a disgrace.”
The special program “Inside California Politics: The Race for the Senate” includes individual interviews with the three leading candidates, with each of them weighing in on how they plan to tackle key issues facing the state and the nation.