Former Major League Baseball player Steve Garvey announced Tuesday he is running for U.S. Senate in 2024 to fill the seat formerly held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who died earlier this month.
Garvey, a Republican, has no political background and faces long odds in a state where Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by nearly 30 points in the 2020 presidential election. But the former baseball star, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, is hoping his name recognition will give him a boost.
“I played in front of millions of fans. I never played for Democrats or Republicans or independents — I played for all of you,” Garvey, 74, said in his campaign launch video that featured several images from his baseball career. “Now I’m running for U.S. Senate in California, a state that I believe at one time was the heartbeat of America and now is just a murmur.”
Already there is a large field of Democratic candidates hoping to succeed Feinstein, including Reps. Katie Porter, Barbara Lee and Adam B. Schiff.
After Feinstein died, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Laphonza Butler to fill Feinstein’s seat for the rest of her term, keeping his promise to pick a Black woman in case of an early vacancy. Butler was sworn in last week as just the third Black female senator in history.
Republicans have not won a Senate race in California in 35 years. However, Garvey could benefit from California’s nonpartisan primary, in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, and the top two finishers advance to the general election.
In a statement, Garvey said his campaign would be “focused on quality-of-life issues, public safety and education.”
Garvey was not immediately available for an interview Tuesday. Garvey told the Los Angeles Times that he voted for Trump twice and did not have an opinion on the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, in which a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol seeking to stop Biden’s electoral win.
Garvey’s announcement quickly drew attacks from some of his Democratic opponents. Lee issued a statement criticizing him as “a pro-Trump, anti-choice extremist” who was wrong for “a progressive state like California.”
“While I welcome debates and a robust democratic process, the idea that Steve Garvey defends the January 6 insurrection is incredibly troubling,” Lee said. “I look forward to the race ahead so voters can learn more about who each of the candidates on the ballot truly are.”
In a social media post, Schiff cast Garvey as a former first baseman turned “multi-millionaire Republican celebrity.”
“Based on his announcement, it sounds like he’s ready to take up the fight for everyone born on third base — thinking they hit a triple,” Schiff wrote. “Go figure.”