Steve Garvey’s performance at the first California Senate Debate was… rough

One of the tensest exchanges of the night came when the three Democrats all pressed Garvey to say whether he’ll vote for former President Donald Trump a third time.

Garvey repeatedly refused to answer, saying he would decide before election day. “At that time, I will make my choice.”

Porter retorted with a zinger: “What they say is true: Once a Dodger, always a Dodger,” she said as the audience howled. “This is not the minor leagues. Who will you vote for?”

Another brutal moment came as Garvey responded to a question about his plan to address the state’s worsening homelessness crisis. Garvey, a first-time candidate, described how he approached unhoused people and “touched them and listened to them.”

He suggested he was the only candidate to approach the issue that way because his opponents are “career politicians” who’ve done nothing to solve the crisis.

Lee, who was unhoused decades ago after she left an abusive relationship as a young single mother, called Garvey’s comment about meeting and touching homeless people belittling. “I’ve just gotta say, as someone who’s been unsheltered, I cannot believe how he described his walk and touching,” she said. The audience burst into laughter.

Schiff couldn’t resist piling on: “This will be my one and only baseball analogy for the evening: Mr. Garvey, that was a total swing and a miss — that was a total whiff of an answer.”

There were also Garvey’s puzzling answers to policy questions. When moderator and POLITICO reporter Melanie Mason asked Garvey to explain why he’s running if he doesn’t have many policy positions, he gave a vague answer.

“I knew I needed to explore California. I needed to talk to the people,” Garvey said. “Policy for me is a position. I’ve taken strong positions.”

He then rattled off a host of general views: “Let’s get back to energy.” “Let’s close the border.” “Let’s enforce crime, crime on the streets. Let’s fund the police.”

Garvey spokesperson Matt Shupe defended his performance. “It’s predictable when you’re the only Republican on the stage and there’s not much different between them,” he said in an interview. “Garvey held his own. He did well.”

Lee, in a post-debate interview, was circumspect about her interaction with the baseball icon.

“He’s Mr. Garvey, and he has his own style,” she said. “He’s a former baseball player, and that’s all I have to say about him.”

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