Americas Community

US Senate hopefuls present programs in candidate forum by ethnic media

By Jun Nucum

SAN FRANCISCO – Filling the seat vacated by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein in the US Senate has been the target of some 27 candidates aspiring to be the next US Senate representing California and the race has reached fever pitch.

With 56.6% being reported as of press time (March 7, 2024) , Democrat Adam Schiff leads garnering 1,409,380 votes representing 33.3% of the votes counted, Republican Steve Garvey (1,356,814 and 32.1%), Democrat Katie Porter (602,694 and 14.3%) and Democrat Barbara Lee (322,625 and 7.6%) rounding the top four candidates of the March 5, 2024 primaries for a full senate term starting 2025.

Unless a big shakeup in figures is reported, Schiff will face Republican Steve Garvey in California’s once-in-a-generation Senate race in November.  

Before the March 5 primary Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media jointly presented a California State candidates’ forum dubbed as US Senate Candidates’ Forum: Live with Reps Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff with the candidates addressing questions from participants.  

The forum happened as hate language permeates discourse around upcoming Senate elections and the candidates discussed how their platforms supported Californians most vulnerable to hate including anti-immigrant sentiments, the housing crisis in the context of redlining and health care as a civil rights issue.

Lee admitted that she was running for Senate because “I know what it takes to help lift people out of poverty into the middle class, to grow the middle class, to create businesses, to address a mental health crisis.”

“For a long time, I was on public assistance, food stamps and Medi-Cal, raising two small boys as a single mother, formerly a survivor of domestic violence … I formed a community mental health center and was a business owner with thousands of employees over 11 years,” Lee narrated.

Lee also expressed her support for single-payer healthcare and how she intends to expand access to healthcare if she is elected to the senate.

As a Congressional legislator, Lee reminded that she alone voted against the blank check authorization reiterating that she is a fighter and will stand her ground.  

Lee added that she supported Medicare for all, including for immigrants; would vote for any legislation that ensures a free and open U.S. press; was championing the OLIGARCH Act to tax extreme wealth; and backed the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine during the war.

As the only person of color in the running she underscored the need to protect disproportionately vulnerable communities of color through climate justice while also emphasized the need for both border state and black and brown representation among legislators pushing immigration bills.  

Schiff, who has represented various parts of Los Angeles County since 2001, agreed with Lee’s criticism of the border deal, adding that foreign aid should never “have ever been combined with an border provision, because it meant the President could be extorted over aid funding by unrelated domestic policy.”

“I would support a comprehensive approach to immigration that includes a pathway to citizenship, and relief for DACA recipients and Temporary Protected Status holders. I’m running for Congress because I want to fight to make the economy work for everyone and to protect our democracy and our planet,” Schiff mentioned adding that his support for a universal basic income pilot project for Americans on Medicaid.

Schiff other efforts included forming a bipartisan and bicameral Congressional caucus on press freedom; federally prosecuting oil companies smuggling waste; promoting Medicare for all and carrying legislation to make racially equitable health care a civil right; fighting online hate against communities of color; advancing a bill repealing the NRA’s immunity from liability; and fighting to more than double the Child Tax Credit, lifting 40% of families with impoverished kids out of poverty.

“Diversity is not only a moral and ethical obligation, but it’s good for keeping the country safe. You can’t have comprehensive, diverse intelligence around the world, if your people don’t look like the rest of the world,” he explained. “If I have a chance to weigh in on appointments, I’m going to elevate people of color to positions of responsibility and make sure that our workforce is reflective of America.”

Porter, who has represented various parts of Orange County since 2019, expressed that the biggest challenge faced by California specifically is the cost of housing and that she is ready to make sure that the federal government is investing in affordable homeownership and undoing the harms of racist redlining policies.

“My Housing for All plan would focus Washington on the number-one expense for California families, so every Californian can afford safe, climate-resilient housing,” Porter exclaimed. “One of the most important functions of Congress is oversight. It’s not just about giving speeches, it’s about getting powerful people to admit the truth.”

On this front, Porter got Trump’s Director of the CDC to make COVID testing free for all Americans, regardless of insurance, or immigration status; got Tim Sloan to resign as the CEO of Wells Fargo by confronting his “ongoing willingness to cheat Americans”; and got Bank of America to raise its minimum wage to $20 an hour.

About recent border negotiations, she said “the bill did not tackle our actual needs for a lawful, orderly and humane immigration system … Immigrants are an incredible source of strength to this country. We cannot have the economy that we need if we do not have an immigration system that recognizes their value” through asylum protections and citizenship pathways, particularly for DACA and TPS recipients.