(KRON) — As a Republican, former baseball great and candidate for the United States Senate, Steve Garvey faces longshot odds to make it out of California’s top-two primary into the general election. In two out of three of California’s most recent U.S. Senate elections, no Republican candidate has advanced to the general election.
Garvey, a former Major League Baseball All-Star and World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is a relatively late entry into the Senate race — having just announced his candidacy last month. But while the other two leading Republicans in the race — businessman James Bradley and attorney Eric Early — are staking out positions in line with the GOP base, Garvey has been decidedly more moderate.
On his website, Garvey says he will serve with “commonsense compassion” and “work to build consensus” if elected. In a KQED interview on Oct. 10, Garvey said he supported “very stringent background checks” when it comes to guns, implied that he opposes a national abortion ban, and voiced support for continuing aid to Ukraine.
All three are positions that put him more in-line with the majority of California voters, but arguably out of step with most Republican primary voters. California hasn’t elected a Republican senator since Pete Wilson was reelected in 1988, and Garvey has never held public office before.
However, the Golden State has a history of elevating individuals with famous pasts and broad name recognition to statewide offices — hello Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Garvey has some distance to go to make up the ground between him and the race’s two frontrunners, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA). But a recent UC Berkeley IGS poll has him third, one point above East Bay progressive Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).
Under California’s primary system, all candidates for voter-nominated offices are listed in the same ballot. The top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party preference, move on to the general election.
In Garvey with his more moderated positions, ex-baseball star status, and “Mr. Clean” persona, California’s long-suffering GOP might have their best chance in decades of sending a candidate into the top two — especially if Democratic primary voters split their votes between Schiff, Porter and Lee.