By Charlie Riley
Voting for a US Senator from California used to be so much easier.
This year, even the primary offers too many amazing choices for Democrats.
To be clear, the upcoming race for the next California US Senator looks like a win by a Democrat, at least according to the pundits. The race ratings from the three outlets that normally track and report on elections, The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball all show a win for the Dems. Their analysis, to paraphrase, all state that one party has a clear edge (the Democrats), and the race is not competitive. A fun fact also being, if memory serves me right, a Republican has not won a California US Senate race since 1988.
There is bit of a concern by other election “experts” that with three strong Democrats plus a new fourth entry in the race, Democrat Lexi Reese, we may be opening the door for a Republican getting into the general election. This would be due to diluting our Democratic vote in the primaries. I still have nightmares about Ross Perot and Ralph Nader running as spoilers for those of us in the baby boomer generation.
The way the election process will work in California is that a primary election will be held this coming March of 2024. Following the primary the two top vote getters regardless of party go on to the general election in November of 2024. The last two general elections were each a contest between two Democrats for the US Senate spot.
Regardless, with not even 7 months until the primary election, we have multiple amazing Democrats running. We each just need to figure out who gets our vote.
Today I will focus on the top four contenders.
Our current Democratic candidates include Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff all of whom look great for multiple reasons. Additionally, a new candidate joined the Democrat list in late June, Lexi Reese.
Lexi is a Non-Profit/Tech leader with a passion for social justice issues. Her work experience includes Google/Facebook and American Express.
Some highlights for each of the candidates include:
Congresswoman Barbara Lee is legendary for being a civil rights activist and a progressive member of the US House of Representatives since 1998 (approximately 25 years). Congresswoman Lee currently represents California’s 12th Congressional District. Lee is a graduate of Mills College in the North Bay Area and has a Master of Social Work from UC Berkeley. She was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in California.
Congresswoman Lee is 77 years old and started her political career in the California State Assembly in 1990, followed by election to the California State Senate before being elected to the US Congress in 1998. She is an advocate for progressive causes including social justice, civil rights, gender equality, and LBGTQ rights. Congresswoman Lee has as provided leadership to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Additionally, she has been recognized by the NAACP, receiving their Rosa Parks Award, and by the National Organization for Women, receiving their Woman of Courage Award.
Congresswoman Katie Porter was elected to Congress in 2018 representing California’s 45th Congressional District, and again in 2022, to represent California’s Congressional District 47.
Congresswoman Porter is 49 years old and prior to being elected to congress was a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. In 2012, Kamala Harris (then California Attorney General) appointed her to serve as the states’ independent monitor of banks in a nationwide mortgage settlement. She is known for having a passion for promoting oversight of the financial sector and advocating for consumer protections. She also has been a vocal supporter of efforts to address climate change and protect the environment. She co-sponsored legislation to transition the United States to 100% clean energy by 2050 and hold polluters accountable. Additionally, she has been a proponent of affordable housing, reproductive rights, and healthcare. Katie Porter absolutely scores as the number one congress person to watch on CSPAN during hearings if you enjoy seeing Corporate CEOs being held accountable.
Congressman Adam Schiff represented California’s 27th Congressional District starting in 2000 and has served twelve terms in Congress. He has represented Congressional Districts 28 and 29 and currently is the representative for California’s 30th Congressional District, all in the Los Angeles area. Congressman Schiff is 63 years old.
Congressman Schiff graduated from Stanford University in 1982 and then earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1985. He then worked as a prosecutor in the Los Angeles branch of the US Attorney’s Office.
In 1996 Schiff was elected and served one term in the California State Senate prior to being elected to the US Congress. In Congress Schiff has served as the Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and was lead prosecutor in President Trump’s first impeachment trial, as well as a key member of the January 6 House Committee. He has been a strong advocate for the environment, civil rights, and LGBT rights.
Lexi Reese describes herself on LinkedIn as an: Advocate, Nonprofit & Tech Leader. She graduated from the University of Virgina earning a History Degree, followed by earning her MBA from Harvard University with a focus on social entrepreneurship.
Ms. Reese was born in San Francisco and is 48 years old. Her work experience includes time at American Express, Google, Facebook, and as COO at Gusto, as well as venture capital firms such as Catalyst General. Her messaging hits a lot of positive points. She leads with equality and opportunity, addressing areas like income inequality. Her policy positions include concerns and priorities like Term Limits for the Supreme Court, addressing Climate, Reproductive Health, Gun Safety, and Healthcare Affordability. She and her husband live in San Mateo County in the foothills.
As the primary races play out, I will keep adding to this Senate race information. On the Republican side we have a few possibilities on the horizon but need to wait and see. Steve Garvey (LA Dodgers Player, and if memory serves me, someone with some post-divorce skeletons in the closet), Brian Dahle, state senator from the 1st district (2019–present) and runner up for Governor in 2022 (lost by 20%), and Mark Meuser who ran against Alex Padilla for Senate and also lost with over a 20% gap. Padilla had over 61% of the votes, and Meuser had 39 % and change.