An unlikely contender might become a harbinger of change for the historically blue state of California.
A former baseball star, of all people, is now gunning for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s former seat.
Steve Garvey, former player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres from 1969 to 1987, is a two-time winner of the National Championship Series MVP award and helped bring the Dodgers a World Series win in 1981.
As reported Sunday in a lengthy profile on Garvey in Politico, the now 75-year-old still possesses a great deal of personal charm, as well as devotion from long-time fans, though he can be vague on where he stands on specific controversial political issues.
In incorrigibly blue California, though, where Republican have been shut out of power at the state level since 2011, it’s hard to say if he’ll even make it on the general election ballot yet, let alone win Feinstein’s former seat. (The seat is being kept warm by Sen. Laphonza Butler, who is not seeking a full term in office.)
That said, according to the Bay Area’s KGO-TV, Garvey is polling well.
According to a recent poll released by Emerson College, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff leads by 25 percent, but Garvey closely follows him with 18 percent.
Considering how blue California has been in recent history, that’s not insignificant support for Harvey, especially since these numbers put him before Democratic contenders like Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.
And even though he’s only been on the campaign trail for about three-and-a-half months, and has never held any kind of political office, he’s done an admirable job of making himself available and appealing as a candidate.
For instance, after Garvey met with a Jewish group at Chabad of the Tri-Valley in San Francisco’s Bay Area, Rabbi Raleigh Resnik told KGO that, “This is actually the first candidate who’s reached out to us. If any other candidate would like to reach out to us, we are here and we welcome their commitment.”
Besides, after Feinstein died in September at the age of 90, staying in office till the bitter end despite suffering debilitating health problems and clear cognitive decline, the race has been both bitter and convoluted.
As veteran California journalist Dan Walters wrote in a piece published Jan. 9 on the politically oriented website Cal Matters, Gov. Gavin Newsom made the situation more confusing than it needed to be, first by promising to appoint a black woman to her vacant seat, then announcing that his appointment would be a caretaker only.
Which, of course, left an opening for plenty of ambitious California Democrats and one dark horse Republican, Garvey.
Still, despite Garvey polling well overall, there is still a long way to go if he wants even a chance of winning the seat.
First, the primary isn’t until March 5.
Then, thanks to California’s jungle primary system, the candidates who receive the two highest vote totals in a primary election go on to compete against each other in the general election. That means Garvey has to beat other Democrats in March, then take on whoever the top Democratic vote-getter is in November.
California finds itself in a unique position now. Ever since 2010, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was term-limited out of the governor’s office, the state has had Democratic governors — Newsom, former Gov. Jerry Brown — and a Democratic-run legislature.
And now it’s reaping the consequences.
Homelessness is out of control, the cost of living has risen to unfathomable amounts, and much of its population is fleeing to red states with even celebrities decrying the state of decay in California.
Could the residents of California finally have had enough, enough to flip from their entrenched Democratic voting patterns to Republican?
Hard to say, but Garvey’s early success is at least an encouraging sign.
As now-former President Donald Trump proved back in 2016, the American people are tired of corrupt career politicians, who make nice-sounding promises on the campaign trail and then, once in office, renege on those promises and promote policies that make life harder for all Americans.
We know the people of California are tired of the filth surrounding them, compounded by the rising costs of living, but will that be enough for them to take action?
In the meantime, we can hope for more candidates like Garvey to rise up and challenge the Democratic majority in places like California.
As Garvey said in an interview with Fox 11 in Santa Monica that was recounted in the Politico profile: “There’s a saying that life is God’s gift to us and what we do with it is our gift to God. Well, this is a way for myself and our family to give back by the visibility and the currency of how people have treated me all through these years.”
Hopefully, the people of California give Garvey the chance.