Why AP declared Schiff, Garvey will face off for California’s US Senate seat: Race call explained

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., fields questions after voting, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Burbank, Calif. Schiff is running for U.S. Senate to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., fields questions after voting, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Burbank, Calif. Schiff is running for U.S. Senate to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press was able to declare that Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey have advanced to the November election for California’s U.S. Senate seat based on an analysis of partial results from throughout the state.

Schiff was declared the winner of one of the two general election slots at 11:30 p.m. EST, about 30 minutes after polls closed in California. With an estimated 19% of the vote counted from parts of 30 of the state’s 58 counties, Schiff had a large lead over his nearest competitor.

Garvey was declared the winner of the second and final general election slot at 12:01 a.m. EST, when he about doubled the vote total of the candidate in third place, Democratic Rep. Katie Porter. At the time, an estimated 39% of the total vote was counted, from 55 of California’s 58 counties.

Under California’s unique primary election system, all candidates in nonpresidential races appear on the same ballot regardless of party, and the first- and second-place finishers advance to the general election. This frequently results in general elections that feature two candidates of the same party.

Porter had no way of catching Garvey even if she exceeded expectations in the vote that remained to be counted, the AP analysis determined. California counts votes very slowly, so candidate margins are likely to change over the coming days.

Schiff and Garvey will compete for the seat long held by the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died last fall.

Tuesday’s election actually features two separate contests to fill Feinstein’s seat: one to complete the remaining months of her current term, which expires in January 2025; and the other for a full six-year term that would next be up for election in 2030.

Feinstein announced before she died that she did not plan to run for a sixth full term this year, and nearly 30 candidates entered the race to replace her. Her death in September created a vacancy that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom filled with fellow Democrat Laphonza Butler, who did not run for either term. Under state law, a special election was required this year to fill the remainder of the term.

The AP declared that Schiff and Garvey had advanced to the general elections for both the unexpired term as well as for the full six-year term.

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Associated Press reporter Maya Sweedler contributed.

AP Politics

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