California Senate candidates trade barbs on Israel, earmarks

California Senate candidates trade barbs on Israel, earmarks

LOS ANGELES — California’s Democratic Senate hopefuls jostled to differentiate each other in a critical pre-primary showdown on Monday night.

Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee sought separation by laying out their respective campaign focuses: Schiff noted he “took on the president” in leading the impeachment drive against former President Donald Trump, Lee called herself a “consistent progressive,” and Porter assailed “greedy corporations” crippling Washington.

Former Dodgers star Steve Garvey, the sole Republican on stage, argued the state needs a change from united Democratic governance. California suffered once “one party started to take over,” said Garvey, who called himself a “conservative moderate.”

The stakes are high for candidates seeking to make a lasting impression on voters just weeks before primary ballots hit mailboxes. Only two of the four who took the stage at the University of Southern California will advance to a general election November runoff.

Polls have consistently shown Schiff in the lead and a tight race for second place between Democratic Porter and Lee and Garvey.

The November election looks very different if it’s a clash between two Democrats or a more traditional matchup between a Democrat and a Republican. If Garvey wins second place in the primary he would face enormous odds in November given California’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.

‘Cease-fire is not a magic word’: California Senate candidates diverge on Israel-Hamas war

The three Democrats volleyed arguments back and forth on the fighting in the Middle East, with Lee pressing hard for a cease-fire.

The Oakland lawmaker touted that she is the only candidate who has called for a permanent cease-fire, while also arguing that an end to the fighting would benefit the security of Israel.

“The only way Israel is going to be secure is through a cease-fire,” Lee said.

Schiff, who has been a steadfast supporter of Israel, said a cease-fire would hurt the country’s ability to defend itself. “We can’t leave Hamas governing Gaza,” Schiff said. “I don’t know how you can ask any nation to cease-fire when their people are being held by a terrorist organization.”

Porter cautioned that an end to fighting would not solve the conflict: “Cease-fire is not a magic word,” she said. “You can’t say it and make it so.”

Garvey said he stands with Israel, “yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

Lee and Porter split on earmarks

Right out of the gate, Porter called for an end to earmarks — and quickly drew a counter argument from Lee, who spoke to the importance of funneling dollars to California.

“I believe in earmarks,” Lee said. “I believe in not being derelict in my duty. California is one of the states that sends money to Washington D.C. — we don’t get our money back.”

Earmarks have been a key point of distinction for the Democrats throughout the race. Schiff has unapologetically vouched for earmarks, but also faced criticism for securing generous earmarks for corporations early in his career.

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