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Adam Schiff v. Steve Garvey Senate Contest

Californians, Repudiate the Political “Halo Effect”—Strike Out GOP “Empty Suit” Senate Nominee Steve Garvey   May 5, 2024

       The “halo effect,” sometimes called the “halo error.” The “halo effect” is the tendency for good impressions of a person in one area to positively influence one’s opinion or feelings of that individual in another field (en.oxfordictionaries.com, 8/02/17, Ries, 4/17/06, “Advertising Age”). The term was coined by psychologist Edward Thorndike. The “halo effect” is a bias that can prevent people from accepting or understanding that just because someone may be good at one skill or occupation, that person will not be so great in another area (See wiki). The “halo effect” strongly influences politics as well. People who look personally attractive and are known for their accomplishments in other fields frequently benefit from the “halo effect” when being judged for political office (See Verhulst, Lodge, et al, “Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 34). Since at least the 1960’s, the GOP has often employed the “halo effect” to help political candidates with little or no governmental experience win high state and federal positions. Probably, the most famous instance of the successful use of the “halo effect” was the election of Republican Ronald Reagan to the Governor’s chair in California. Reagan, of course, was known for his successful acting career before he won his first landslide gubernatorial victory in 1966. He had no experience in office before this first win but was liked for his handsome looks, good voice, and career in the movies and television. After his first gubernatorial win, Reagan was re-elected in 1970 and went on to easily win two terms in the White House. Throughout his political career, GOPers milked Reagan’s positive “halo effect” with great success. IMHO, Reagan was not a very good governor or president, and put the country on a right-wing reactionary path. Of course, Demagogue Donald is another GOPer aided “big time” by the “halo effect.” Donald used his television career to project an image of strength when he successfully ran in 2016. He gave the impression that his strong “You’re fired” persona on “The Apprentice” would similarly carry over to the Oval Office and solve all our problems. Millions of Americans bought into this “halo effect/error” that enveloped Trump.

       And now, once again, in CA, the GOP is playing the “halo effect” card. This time, it is in the U. S. Senate race to replace appointed Democratic Senator Laphonza Butler who is currently occupying the Senate seat that Democrat Dianne Feinstein held until her death on September 29, 2023. Since Butler is not running for this seat in 2024, there is a wide-open race for this key Senate seat. Under CA law, the top two finishers in the March, 2024 primary will face each other regardless of party in November, 2024 (npr.org, 3/15/24, Shafer, S.) Those two candidates will be Democratic Cong. Adam Schiff (63) and Republican Steve Garvey (75). That’s right, Steve Garvey.

 Garvey has had no experience holding any political office. However, Garvey is fondly remembered by many for his power on the baseball diamond. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, first baseman Garvey played for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Los Angeles and San Diego are the biggest major cities in Southern CA, which gives Garvey strong candidate recognition in that state’s most populous area. During his Major League career, Garvey smashed key home runs and clutch hits that powered the Dodgers to a 1981 World Series championship. Garvey was additionally named MVP for both the Dodgers and Padres and was a 10-time All Star (npr.com., Shafer, 3/15/24, usatoday.com, Tran & Barber, 3/06/24). Since leaving baseball, Garvey headed Garvey Communications which was involved in television production and infomercials. He additionally did motivational speaking and served as a member of the Baseball Assistance Team, helping former major league, minor league, and Negro League players through financial and medical hardships. He played himself on an episode of the NBC sitcom “Just Shoot Me!” in 1999. He has earned at least $1.1 million for appearing in advertisements (imdb.com, “Softball,” metnews.com, 9/02/24). In short, Garvey has no real political background and just does the speaking tours typical GOP candidates starting with Reagan did to keep themselves in the public’s eye and earn big bucks in the process.   

         Garvey has not really told CA voters where he stands on the issues. He is very weak on specifics. At a debate he had against Schiff and Schiff’s challengers prior to the March, 2024 primary, he said he would vote against a national ban on abortions. Well, he said that because he knows that in heavily pro-choice CA stating he would restrict abortions in any way would be political suicide. However, as with many GOPers, we really can’t be sure whether he would maintain that position if Trump was re-elected and pressured him on this matter or if GOP leadership would demand that he vote anti-choice. Garvey’s real political platform is just to evoke nostalgia for returning the Golden State to the “good old days,” whatever that means. Garvey may mean returning to the 1960’s when millions of Americans flocked to CA. However, few Californians remember that era and many were born way after that time. Garvey also promised in his campaign announcement “to run a commonsense campaign, put the uniform back on, and get back in the game.” Another set of platitudes that remind everyone of his baseball playing “halo” image. In a pre-primary debate, Schiff hit Garvey hard for waffling on his stands and “striking out” on the issues (latimes.com). And most importantly, Garvey, who wants to portray himself to Californians as a pragmatic and “moderate” Republican, has repeatedly admitted that he had voted for Trump both in 2016 and 2020 (npr.org). Some “moderate!” Schiff is hanging the Trump anchor on Garvey’s neck and will continue to do that throughout the campaign.  When asked whether he would support Trump in 2024 at the ballot box, Garvey declined to say whether he would vote for Donald in November. He stated, it’s his “personal choice (smdp.com, Matters, 3/07/24).” Message to Garvey: When you enter politics, you give up much of your privacy and ability to duck major issues. Above all else, telling the electorate whether you will support your party’s presidential nominee is essential and constitutes a political “no-brainer.”

        When Garvey gets “pinned” down to talk about some matters, he just utters the usual GOP cliches. He calls for the shutdown of the southern border and argues that drug and human trafficking should be curbed. And who is not against curbing drug and human trafficking, Mr. Steve “Cliché” Garvey? Of course, shutting down the southern border appeals to the hard-core CA GOP Trump-loving anti-immigration crowd. Garvey, of course, like most GOPers, is against raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 while Schiff is calling for a $20 hourly rate indexed to inflation. Schiff rightly supports moving away from fossil fuel energy, while Garvey, during debates, has stressed that the country “runs on gas and oil (smdp.com, Matters, 3/07/24)”. Translation: Garvey will do nothing to force his rich GOP oil and gas donors to understand that they can no longer call the economic “shots.”

      Democrat Adam Schiff, as opposed to political novice Garvey, is serving his 12th term in the House. He represents the CA 30th Congressional District (CD). The Golden State 30th is centered in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles and includes Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Hollywood, and Echo Park. Schiff is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. At Harvard Law, he worked as a student research assistant for Professor Laurence Tribe. Tribe is known for working with top students like future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and others who share his liberal philosophy (See Levenson, M., newspapers.com, “The Boston Globe,” “Jewish Justices,” Dalin, 2017). After law school, Schiff spent a year as a Federal District Law Clerk and from 1987-1993, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. In 1993, Schiff won a conviction against former FBI agent Richard Miller for his spying for Russia (latimes.com, Weinstein, H., 12/08/19). In 1996, Schiff won election to the CA State Senate where he enacted many measures, including guaranteeing up-to-date textbooks in classrooms and reforming the child support system. In 2000, Schiff defeated GOP Cong. Jim Rogan who was known for strongly pushing for Clinton’s impeachment in the Lewinsky affair. Schiff defeated Rogan by an unexpected 9-point margin and has easily won re-election since (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac).

      In Congress, Schiff started out as a moderate, but has now become a strong liberal. In the typical years of 2019-2020, Schiff received scores of 95% from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action and a 100% labor AFL-CIO rating, while getting just a 5% American Conservative Union score. Schiff, who represents Glendale, which has a large Armenian- American population, has been a leading and successful voice in making Congress recognize the Turkish genocide committed against the Armenians during the WWI era (latimes.com, Wire, S., 10/29/19). Schiff has been an outspoken critic of Demagogue Donald. Schiff is a leading expert on national security. He demanded answers to allegations of misbehavior, including Russian meddling in favor of Trump during the 2016 election. He took a high-profile role as House manager in Trump’s first impeachment over Trump’s demands that Ukraine give him “dirt” on Biden before he would give that country military aid. Schiff was chair of the House Intelligence Committee under former Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Cohen & Cook 2022). Schiff, who is Jewish, is a strong supporter of Israel. He has condemned anti-Semitism and correctly supported Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas. He rejects calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, which would give Hamas a break, but supports humanitarian pauses to deliver aid to Palestinians in Gaza (politico.com, 11/18/23). On April 29, 2024, Schiff was one of 21 House Democrats who signed a letter blasting Columbia University for not yet disbanding the impermissible encampment of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activists on campus that has triggered far too many copy-cat demonstrations at other colleges (See Smith, C., ntd.com, 4/29/24). Schiff was also one of the nine House members appointed by Pelosi to investigate the Trump-incited January 6, 2021 attempted coup on the U.S. Capitol (npr.org, Shivaram, 6/22/22). If there is any person well-prepared to run and win this CA Senate seat it is Adam Schiff, not right-wing/political “empty suit” Steve Garvey.

        In CA, which has an overwhelming 2:1 Democratic voter registration and in which no GOPer has won office statewide since 2006, Schiff is highly favored to win the general election (politico, Cadelago & Mason, 3/06/24, Shafer, npr.org, 3/15/24).  An early poll taken soon after the primary by the Berkeley Institute of Government Studies/Los Angeles Times had Schiff leading Garvey 53%-38%, a 15-point margin (politico.com, Cadelago & Mason, 3/06/24). The primary electorate was much older, whiter, and conservative than the CA turnout is expected to be in November, 2024 when Donald will be facing President Biden in this  super-“Blue” State. In 2020, Biden clobbered Trump in CA by 30 points, and a similar or near similar Biden margin in 2024 will not help Garvey. Schiff will also note that a vote for Garvey could help flip the Senate into GOP hands (Shafer, npr.org, 3/15/24). Schiff is a strong fundraiser and will probably finish the race with $10 million in the bank. Schiff has the backing of most of CA’s Democratic House delegation which recognizes his outstanding work in the House (politico.com, usatoday.com, Tran & Barber, 3/06/24). Schiff will continue to jump on Garvey as a Trump supporter and rubber-stamper out of step with CA throughout the general election campaign (politico.com). Right now, national GOPers are not considering spending much money on Garvey’s race. However, Garvey has the ability to raise money on his own. In the last six weeks before the primary, he raised $1.5 million. Garvey did not run ads on television during the primary, a strategy that may change in the general election (See politico.com, Cadelago & Mason). Lanhee Chen, who ran an unsuccessful bid for CA state controller two years ago on the GOP ticket, expresses optimism about Garvey’s chances. Chen stated that Garvey’s “candidacy represents something very different for CA Republicans.” He believes that Garvey can win over undecided voters by appealing to their dissatisfaction with “politics as usual.” In a poll from Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental studies, 57% of voters think CA is “off on the wrong track.” Chen thinks that Garvey’s stands are a little more centrist than Schiff’s (npr.org). Of course, if too many Democrats stay home thinking Schiff and/or Biden has the race “in the bag,” right-wing Garvey could become competitive.

       California has often been a national trendsetter. CA gave us Reagan by believing in the erroneous “halo effect.” In November, 2024 California voters must repudiate the “halo effect.” They must clobber Garvey by the 15% poll margin or by an even greater percentage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

             

          


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