Adam Schiff dominates rivals in fundraising for US Senate race in California

Representatives Barbara Lee, Adam B. Schiff and Katie Porter, left to right.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, center, has raised millions more than Reps. Barbara Lee, left, and Katie Porter, his Democratic rivals in the 2024 U.S. Senate race in California. (Associated Press, Los Angeles Times)

Representative Adam B. Schiff has overwhelmed his rivals in the financial race to replace incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, raising $8.2 million in recent months, according to federal fundraising reports released Saturday.

Schiff has collected about double the combined total collected by his top Democratic challengers — Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee — over the same period.

Schiff’s windfall was fueled by his June censure by congressional Republicans for his role in investigating former GOP Chairman Trump’s ties to Russia – a rebuke the Burbank Democrat pointed out to several taken up in its fundraising appeals.

“Schiff might as well have paid for that censorship, in the sense that it gave him exactly what he wanted, which was ‘I’m the person Republicans don’t want to win, and that’ is for a reason,'” said Jessica Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Law School. “Even though he is such an eloquent and eloquent lawyer, I don’t know if he could have argued his case the way the Republicans did.”

Schiff’s haul far outpaced Porter, an Irvine Democrat who raised $3.1 million in the second quarter of 2023. But she led Schiff 19% to 16% in a poll of likely voters released this week. last by the Public Policy Institute of California. Lee had 13% support.

In recent years, Schiff and Porter have been among the House’s most prodigious fundraisers. But Porter had to spend nearly $29 million on his tight re-election bid from Orange County last year, while Schiff coasted another term and cashed in his donations.

Lee, a Democrat from Oakland, received $1.1 million between April 1 and June 30, according to briefing documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, which were released on Saturday. That’s the same amount as Democrat Lexi Reese, a Silicon Valley executive seeking a seat in her first run for public office, though Reese contributed about $284,000 of her own money to her campaign.

Although the general election is more than a year away, these numbers are crucial in early assessments of the candidates’ prospects as they vie for a rare open Senate seat representing California, home to some of the most expensive media markets. from the country. Television advertising is a requisite in any statewide campaign to woo California’s 22 million voters.

Learn more: Senate candidates hoping to replace Feinstein are courting Democratic activists

Feinstein, 90, was known for breaking down gender barriers even before she was first elected to the Senate in 1992’s ‘Year of the Woman’, when a record number of women candidates won seats in Congress. .

The San Francisco Democrat has been hailed by colleagues from both parties for her intelligence and dedication to her job. But concerns about Feinstein’s declining mental and physical abilities have reached a crescendo in recent months, and she announced in February that she would not seek another term next year.

Several Republicans are also running for Feinstein’s Senate seat, but their prospects are bleak due to California’s gradual tilt. Californians last elected a GOP politician to statewide office in 2006 and have become more liberal since then. Democrats made up 47% of registered voters, Republicans 24% and voters who don’t express a party preference 22% as of Feb. 10, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Eric Early, a GOP attorney running for the Senate seat, said he had raised $201,176 through June 30. Republican James Bradley, a Coast Guard veteran and former health care executive, had not filed a fundraising report as of Saturday afternoon.

Learn more: Who will replace Senator Dianne Feinstein? Meet potential candidates

The race to replace Feinstein is further complicated by California’s “jungle” primary system, in which the two candidates with the most votes qualify for the November general election, regardless of party. The primary is due to take place in March.

If two Democrats emerge victorious in the primary, their battle will continue through November and tens of millions of dollars will be spent on the contest. If a Republican claims one of the top two spots, the Democrat they face will have a seemingly insurmountable advantage.

But one notable uncertainty is whether former Dodgers star Steve Garvey, a Republican, will enter the contest; he is expected to announce a decision this month. On Saturday, 23 candidates had filed for the seat.

Schiff and Porter, frequent cable news guests who are popular among liberal voters for their respective opposition to Trump and business leaders, have been among the top fundraisers in Congress in recent years.

But since they started racing against each other for Feinstein’s seat, Schiff has passed Porter. In the first three months of 2023, he raised $6.5 million and spent $2.8 million, while Porter raised $4.5 million and spent $2.5 million, records show. federal elections.

Their financial disparity increased in the second quarter of this year, with Schiff raising $8.2 million and spending $3.3 million, and Porter raising $3.1 million and spending $2.2 million, according to the FEC. . As of June 30, Schiff had $29.8 million in cash, while Porter had $10.4 million. They have more money in their bank accounts than they collected through transfers from their congressional campaign committees.

Lee’s campaign finances continue to lag those of his congressional colleagues in the race; she said she raised $1.1 million in the second quarter and spent $817,000. She had $1.4 million in the bank as of June 30.

As Schiff highlights her fight with Trump in fundraising appeals, and Porter highlights her experience as a single mother serving in Congress and offers meal planning advice, Lee – a black woman who sits in the House representatives since 1998 – focuses on racial disparities in the nation’s capitol. Only two African-American women have been elected to the Senate.

“We love you, Barbara. We think you would make an excellent senator. But Adam Schiff, he just looks like a senator,” Lee wrote in an email to supporters, paraphrasing comments she received. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard that during the election campaign. And I’ll be honest, it breaks my heart.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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