Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey are running for California Senate.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff Will compete in November The late Dianne Feinstein held the seat for the US Senate.

It's a rare opportunity for the GOP to compete in this Democratic stronghold statewide race.

The matchup also marks the first time California has not had a woman in the Senate in more than three decades.

Garvey celebrated with cheering supporters at a hotel in his hometown of Palm Desert, where he warned not to underestimate him despite the state's Democratic tilt. He said he would run a campaign across party lines, focusing on inflation, the state's out-of-control homelessness crisis and rising crime rates in cities.

“They're saying we're going to strike in the general election,” Garvey said. “Know this: It's not over until it's over.”

Schiff's victory party was marred by wild protesters chanting “free Palestine” and “ceasefire now”. Schiff took several pauses, and he hurried his remarks.

Schiff, who has been outspoken in support of Israel's right to defend itself, reversed course on Tuesday and endorsed it. Biden administration A Gaza ceasefire should be called for as part of a broader deal The release of the hostages. “My position is more like management,” Schiff said. The disturbing scene is a reminder that even in a robust democracy, he must carefully navigate the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Garvey, a former baseball MVP who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, joined Schiff as the top two vote-getters in Tuesday's election.

California puts all candidates, regardless of party, on the same primary ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. That means Republicans sometimes drop out of statewide races because of Democrats' hold on the state. The GOP has failed to field a candidate for the general election in two of California's last three U.S. Senate races.

Still, Democrats are expected to easily pick up the Senate seat in November, a relief for the party as it seeks to protect a narrow majority. A Republican has not won a Senate race in California since 1988.

Still, the campaign represents a new era in California politics, which has long been dominated by Feinstein and a handful of veteran politicians.

Garvey and Schiff advance to the November ballot in a race to fill the remainder of Feinstein's term following the general election. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom Appointed Labonza Butler, a longtime Democratic organizer, to serve out Feinstein's term, Butler did not seek election to the seat. The winner of the November election will serve a truncated term in early January, when a full six-year term begins.

This is California's first open U.S. Senate race since 2016. Before Feinstein announced in early 2023 that she would not seek re-election, many of the state's ambitious Democrats were anxiously awaiting their shot at the coveted seat.

Garvey's candidacy, buoyed by name recognition especially among older voters, took an unexpected turn in the race. The dynamic between Schiff and U.S. Rep. Katie Porter grew more tense in the final weeks of the campaign as the two vied for a general election spot.

First-time candidate Garvey took his place on the fall ballot Establishes himself as an outsider Running against entrenched Washingtonians, he blamed skyrocketing grocery and gas prices, unreachable housing costs and an unchecked homelessness crisis in cities.

He has Schiff and the supporting super political action groups to thank, which have made millions of dollars promoting Garvey's conservative credentials.

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He enters the fall campaign as a long shot to fill the seat.

A GOP candidate has not won a U.S. Senate election since 1988, and Democrats outnumber Republican voters. 2-to-1 margin. Republicans did not have a single candidate on the general election ballot in the 2016 and 2018 Senate races.

Garvey hopes to follow the path blazed by other celebrity athletes-turned-politicians, including the former California governor. Arnold SCHaversnakerA one-time bodybuilder and actor who became the last Republican to hold the state's top job, Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, a former NFL player, and Bill Bradley, a former professional basketball legend, became New Jersey's longest-serving U.S. senator. .

He calls himself a “conservative moderate” and argues that he shouldn't be buttonholed into conventional labels like former President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again political movement.

Garvey has voted twice for Trump, who lost in a landslide in California but remains popular among GOP voters, but has said he hasn't made up his mind about this year's presidential race. He personally opposes abortion rights, but does not support a nationwide abortion ban, and will “always uphold the voice of the people,” indicating the state's long-standing tilt in favor of abortion rights.

He also had to deal with the resurgence of sordid details about his private life, including the fact that he fathered two children with unmarried women, which undermined the clean-cut public persona he cultivated during his Dodger days.

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Associated Press writer Sophie Austin in Sacramento, California contributed to this report.

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