CA Senate candidates debated for the last time before March 5th primary

In Los Angeles on Tuesday night, the spotlight fell on the four prominent contenders vying for the California Senate seat, marking their final debate before the pivotal March 5th primary. This primary will determine the two leading candidates who will advance to the November election showdown. With three Democrats—Representatives Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, Katie Porter—and Republican Steve Garvey gracing the stage, the hour-long debate unfolded as a platform for each candidate to delineate their platforms and distinguish themselves.

The economy and the pressing issue of inflation set the stage for the candidates’ initial discourse. Representative Schiff advocated for mitigating energy costs through a windfall profits tax on oil companies. In contrast, Garvey attributed inflation to excessive spending in Washington. Congresswomen Porter and Lee redirected the focus towards the financial challenges faced by Californians, emphasizing the burdens of housing, childcare, eldercare, and college expenses, underscoring the necessity for policies supporting a living wage.

An inquiry into their stance on a recent bipartisan immigration bill revealed unanimous dissent among the candidates. None expressed support for the proposed legislation. However, Rep. Lee stood alone in advocating for a complete ceasefire in Gaza.

Environmental issues, including the fate of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant and nuclear power, prompted divergent responses. While Reps. Porter and Lee voiced opposition to nuclear power, Rep. Schiff maintained a nuanced stance, acknowledging its potential in conjunction with renewable energy sources. Garvey, on the other hand, affirmed his support for both nuclear power and traditional fossil fuels.

Throughout the discourse, frontrunner Rep. Schiff positioned himself as a pragmatic leader capable of effecting change. Yet, Rep. Porter emerged as a formidable challenger, aligning herself as the progressive alternative, emphasizing her refusal of corporate PAC money—a choice she contrasted with Rep. Schiff’s funding decisions. Garvey, meanwhile, projected himself as a unifying force, pledging bipartisan cooperation.

Despite facing scrutiny over past support for former President Trump, Garvey remained resolute in his commitment to fostering bipartisanship. In contrast, Rep. Lee refrained from launching attacks, instead highlighting her personal journey and progressive track record, particularly her advocacy for underserved communities and Dreamers’ citizenship rights.

As the March 5th primary looms, the stage is set for a fiercely contested race, with each candidate vying to secure their position as one of the top two contenders poised for the November election.