Former baseball star Steve Garvey is entering the US Senate race in California, hoping to become the first Republican elected to the chamber from the state since 1988.
Garvey, 74, played 14 seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning the 1974 National League Most Valuable Player award and helping lead the team to a 1981 World Series championship. He then played five seasons for the San Diego Padres, leading them to the World Series in 1984.
He leaned into that baseball career in a video launching his campaign Tuesday, saying, “It’s time to get back in the game.”
“Our campaign is focused on quality-of-life issues, public safety and education,” Garvey said in a statement announcing his Senate run. “As a U.S. senator, I will serve with common sense, compassion, and will work to build consensus to benefit all of the people of California.”
Garvey is the latest entrant into a crowded field vying for the seat previously held by the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died in late September.
It’s not yet clear if Democratic Sen. Laphonza Butler, a former labor leader whom Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed to fill the remainder of Feinstein’s term, will join next year’s primary for a full six-year term.
Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter are already running for the seat, as is Democrat Lexi Reese, a former tech executive. Republican attorney Eric Early, who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general last year, is also in the race.
California has not elected a Republican senator since 1988, when Pete Wilson won a second term before his election as governor two years later. John Seymour, whom Wilson appointed to his seat, was the last Republican to represent California in the Senate, leaving office in 1992 after a loss to Feinstein in a special election.
Under the California system, all candidates will run in the same primary, with the top two finishers, regardless of party, moving on to the general election. The state is now so overwhelmingly blue that the 2016 and 2018 Senate races saw two Democrats advance from those primaries.
However, Republicans have a history of conveying star quality into statewide victories. Arnold Schwarzenegger rode his movie stardom and a moderate message to a tenure as governor from 2003 to 2011. Though in recent years, Republican celebrity candidates, including former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who ran in the 2021 gubernatorial recall, have been less successful.