Sacramento, California. (AP) – California’s wide-open U.S. Senate race moves to Sacramento on Saturday as leading Democratic candidates woo activists looking for the state party’s endorsement ahead of the March primary.
United States Representatives. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, as well as former tech executive Lexi Reese, will make their case before hundreds of party delegates at the California Democratic Party’s annual fall convention. They are seeking to fill the seat he now holds Sin. Lavonza Butler, who was appointed when he was a long-time senator. Dianne Feinstein died in September. Butler is not seeking election.
The official support barrier — 60% of the vote — is likely to be out of reach given that the top three candidates are all members of Congress with large support bases. But Saturday night’s vote will offer a glimpse into how party loyalists view the top candidates, two of whom could meet in head-to-head competition in the general election if no Republican garners enough support to advance past the primary.
California’s statute allows candidates from all parties to compete on a single ballot, sending the top two vote-getters to the general election regardless of party. The last two U.S. Senate races in the state — in 2016 and 2018 — featured two Democrats.
Each of the Senate candidates will take turns speaking during the forum shortly before delegates cast their votes.
Schiff is widely viewed as the front-runner, leading the candidates in fundraising and boasting a host of influential endorsements — including the coveted blessing from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In public opinion polls, overall, Porter finished second and Lee third. But a large portion of voters are undecided, making the race far from a sure thing.
Endorsement by the state Democratic Party can boost a campaign in competitive primaries, but it does not necessarily indicate how the broader electorate feels about the race as party delegates tend to be more liberal. In 2018, the party endorsed then-state Sen. Kevin de Leon beat Feinstein in the general election, although he did little to boost his candidacy. Feinstein won the general election easily.
“An endorsement convention is mostly symbolic and can send a signal, when there is very uniform support for a particular candidate, that there is strong momentum behind a particular candidate. We don’t We see it often. But we often don’t see that.” “We often see divisions, we see divisions.”
Endorsements aren’t the only thing Democrats will be voting on this weekend as the party is also considering updates to its platform. The war between Israel and Hamas is likely to be a topic of intense debate throughout the weekend. Party leaders have strengthened security measures for the conference, which comes a few days later Police and demonstrators clashed Outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.
“It simply reflects the recognition that we are in a tense moment, not just here in Sacramento, but across the country and around the world,” California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks said. “We want to make sure that everyone is safe, that everyone feels safe, and that they have the opportunity to have their voice heard.”
A large crowd of demonstrators gathered on Friday outside a convention hall in Sacramento to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. This kind of protest could benefit a candidate like Lee, who was the only Democrat to vote against the war in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“I think this is going to be one of the issues of this conference, this conflict between Israel and Gaza and maybe that will allow Barbara Lee to get more energy from it,” said Andrew Acosta, a Democratic political consultant.
While the US Senate race will receive a lot of attention, party leaders say they are more focused on the congressional races the party needs to win to regain control of the US House of Representatives. Hicks says the party plans to spend “in double digits” on a handful of congressional races, including targeting Republicans John Duarte and David Valadao in the Central Valley and Mike Garcia, Michelle Steele and Young Kim in Southern California.
“We have a special obligation when it comes to helping regain control of the House,” Hicks said. “The reality is you can’t win the House if you don’t win seats here in California.”