Dem 51
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GOP 49
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California Republicans May Try Something Different

For the past several senatorial election cycles, California Republicans deployed the old trick: Find a wealthy person who can self-fund. Someone like that is not likely to win, but you never know, and even in the event it doesn't work out, the candidate is wasting primarily their own money. However, this has not only failed to work out for the Party, it's produced a series of spectacular, landslide losses. In fact, in the last three Senate elections in the Golden State, a Republican has survived to the general election just one time. And that one was Mark P. Meuser, who is enough an unknown that Wikipedia doesn't have a page (or even a photograph) for him. He lost to Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) last year by 22 points.

There is an alternate "Hail Mary" strategy available, one that probably has a higher success rate than "run a rich person with a fat checkbook." Today's Republican voters are, on the whole, very willing to support a celebrity who has no actual political experience. Think J.D. Vance, Herschel Walker, Mehmet Oz and, of course, Donald Trump. And California Republicans practically invented this approach. Think Governors Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayors Clint Eastwood and Sonny Bono, among others, all of whom were elected to their executive positions without a single day of political experience under their belts.

Of course, you have to find a celebrity who's willing to run and who is a Republican. And the California GOP thinks they might have just the right person. Embracing the hope that voters will cast their ballots based on nostalgia and/or sports fandom, the fellow that the red team is hoping might lead them back to the promised land is... former baseball player Steve Garvey, who spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1969-82) and San Diego Padres (1983-87).

Garvey hasn't officially decided to toss his hat in the ring, as he is still "talking to people." That means that the California Republican Party is polling voters to see if they might actually vote for him. We suspect they are going to be disappointed with what they learn. Garvey was popular enough in his playing days, but those ended close to 40 years ago, so quite a few voters will have little to no connection to him. There's also no reason to think he'll connect with voters in Northern California, which is Giants territory. He's 72, which may not be what voters have in mind given that they're replacing a senator who clearly aged out of the job. Oh, and if he does run, there's an excellent chance he'll be Herschel Walker v2.0. Garvey has something of a sordid sexual history (near the end of his career, he fathered children with two different women at the same time, neither of them his wife). He's been involved in some questionable business ventures (primarily shady infomercials). He's also, if we may be blunt, something of a meathead.

If Garvey does run, he may well get the nomination, and he will almost certainly give us some "Can you believe what Steve Garvey said?" news stories to write about. But there's no way he's going to be elected to the U.S. Senate. If California Republicans want to run a former Dodger and Padre, and they actually want to make things interesting, then they guy they should recruit is Fernando Valenzuela. We don't know what the former pitcher's politics are, but he became a citizen in 2015, he's considerably better in front of a microphone than Garvey is, he's 10 years younger, he's bilingual, and he's an icon in California's Mexican-American community. Valenzuela wouldn't win either, but he would at least make the Democrats sweat a little. Garvey won't even do that. (Z)

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