Steve Garvey spent nearly two decades playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres and now he’s looking for a different type of victory, this time in the U.S. Senate race in California.
Garvey is the leading Republican candidate, and a recent poll from Politico and Morning Consult shows that he continues to gain more support from voters, finishing in a statistical tie for second place.
Despite his improving position in the race, Garvey hasn’t run a traditional campaign and his policy positions are not fully known.
He describes himself as a Republican, albeit a moderate one, and at his home in Palm Desert, he says that there are parallels between his career in pro sports and public office.
“This is my office and kind of the museum so to speak. Like I said before, life is an accumulation of memories and moments, and I have been blessed to receive a number of awards,” Garvey said.
“This is a pennant from the 1974 All-Star game. That was my first All-Star game. I was not on the ballot, so you had to write my name in. They started this groundswell of ‘Let’s get Steve into the All-Star game’ starting in Tampa, my hometown. Eventually, I got over a million write-in votes. As I think about it now, getting one million write-in votes may set a precedent for this election.”
Garvey says that a lifetime spent in his adopted state allowed him to understand the issues it faces and shaped how he would address them if elected.
“I always say I never took the field for Democrats or Republicans or independents or libertarians, I took the field for all the fans and I’m going to run for all the people,” Garvey said.
“When I first came here, California was the heartbeat of America, and it’s just a murmur now. We want to bring that heartbeat back that America looks at and says, ‘That’s the kind of state I want to live in, not want to leave.’”
On a two-day campaign swing throughout eastern and Southern California in mid-December, Garvey met with experts who work on restoring the Salton Sea, trying to keep the body of water from evaporating and emitting toxic dust particles into the air.
Garvey said that, in his part of the state, the lake’s evaporation can have profound impacts on residents who live nearby.
“Living in the Coachella Valley, I learned a lot about the ever-shrinking level of the lake…and the increased salinization.”
“For me, it’s making sure whatever is done here protects the people. The silt is blown south into Imperial County and west into the Coachella Valley. Make sure first, we protect the people, then look at the ecology and environment, then look at the geothermal growth here — the harvesting so to speak of the brine where the lithium comes from and the potential for this to be a tremendous resource.”
A “people first” mentality is something that Garvey believes has been missing in Washington, and it is a subject he touched on throughout the trip, highlighting what motivated him to join the race.
“I take a lot of pride in California. I woke up in March, turned the TV on and saw the ugliness between politicians of different parties. No bipartisanship, (it is) partisan business as usual.”
“The people of California know who I am, and I thought…maybe at this time in my life, it’s time to help the people of California.”
“Let’s be focused strictly on providing an economy for mom and dad with two children and two jobs, that’s going to allow them to save money, to be able to save for the future, to be able to provide their kids with the best schools available.”
The recent rise in inflation is also top of mind for Garvey, who gave some insight into how he would address some economic issues.
“I go to the gas station at 7:30 a.m. and there will be all the trucks there of the hardworking men and women. They’re not buying 10 gallons worth of gas anymore. They’re buying $10 worth of gas.”
“Food is up 30 to 40 percent. So, at the end of the month, you’re down $800-900, and you worked as hard as you possibly could.”
“What we need to do is stimulate the economy, free market capitalism. Let’s cut back on these entitlements, let’s stop printing money. Let’s put money back into the country, into the men and women who have paid their taxes, who deserve to get the benefits of their hard-earned money.”
When asked about what he thinks of former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against immigrants, Garvey said, “…Everybody has their opinion and I have mine, I think I’m very clear about that.”
“I think it’s very clear that I am common sense about this, protecting the citizens of America, of compassion for those people that have come into this country. We have to take care of them, to allow them to have basic needs of life. Anybody running for office has an opinion.”
In the town of Brawley in Imperial County, Garvey made a campaign stop at the OWB Packers beef processing plant, where he took a tour of the facility and met with some of the 862 employees who work there.
“You work hard. You need lower taxes. You need affordability, you need your gas prices to be lower. Because for you to live the dream of being a citizen in this country, you need a voice that knows you, that respects you, and wants your quality of life to be the best it can be.”
On the second day of his tour around Southern California, Garvey visited the U.S.-Mexico border with Congressman Darrell Issa and the mayors of several cities.
The group visited Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach and part of the border wall that was started by Trump’s administration but stopped by Biden’s.
Regarding immigration, Garvey said, “There is always perception and reality. Today is a shocking reality of exactly what our border security and customs people deal with on a daily basis.”
“A wall like this, 40 feet high, having the illegal immigrants’ ability to climb these walls from Mexico into the United States. These hard-working representatives are working hard every day for our country to keep a system that is legal, not illegal.”
In the middle of the tour, several migrants crossed into California through an opening and turned themselves in to U.S. authorities, seeking asylum.
“…It’s one thing to watch videos and see pictures, it’s another thing to see them in person. This has been quite an awakening day for all of us,” Garvey said.
“It’s an open border. The border was not finished by the Biden administration.”
“We have to have a legal way for immigrants to come into this country. An illegal path is dangerous from a humanitarian standpoint. We have to do all we can to protect those who wish to come to this country, but it has to be through a new policy. There is a crisis at the border.”
Nexstar is following candidates to see what it is like to balance work and family during the U.S. Senate campaign. While there are some policy discussions in the story, the project is intended to capture glimpses of what you don’t see in traditional campaign coverage. All candidates received the request to participate at the same time. Candid coverage is being published as candidates make themselves available. In order to qualify, candidates must have polled above 5% in the most recent Nexstar poll. Look for features on additional Senate candidates in the coming days and weeks.