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Schiff kicks off campaign for California Senate seat

Race for seat held by Dianne Feinstein could be crowded, expensive

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, 62, is a former assistant U.S. attorney and California state senator who has represented his Southern California district since 2001.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff, 62, is a former assistant U.S. attorney and California state senator who has represented his Southern California district since 2001. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Highlighting his role as a leader of the resistance to former President Donald Trump, California Rep. Adam B. Schiff launched his bid for Senate on Thursday, joining what is likely to be an expensive and competitive Democratic primary.

“When a dangerous demagogue tried to undermine our democracy, I wasn’t about to let him,” Schiff said in a video message announcing his candidacy. “The struggle isn’t over.”

Schiff joins fellow Democratic Rep. Katie Porter as an announced candidate for the Senate seat. It is currently held by Democrat Dianne Feinstein, 89, who has not announced whether she will seek reelection. Other potential contenders include Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna.

California uses a top-two primary system in which all candidates appear on the ballot, making it possible that a general election contest becomes a race between two Democrats.

Schiff, 62, is a former assistant U.S. attorney and California state senator who has represented his Southern California district since 2001. A longtime member and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he was ousted from the panel this week — along with fellow California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell — by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who said Schiff’s leadership jeopardized national security.

Schiff says his removal was “political retribution” for his role managing Trump’s first impeachment trial. Schiff later served on the House committee examining the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters who were trying to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.

In his video, Schiff leaned into his role as one of Trump’s most visible Democratic adversaries. It features clips of Trump, McCarthy and various Fox News personalties denouncing Schiff.

“After all that, I wish I could say the threat of MAGA extremists is over,” Schiff said. “Today’s Republican Party is gutting the middle class, threatening our democracy. They aren’t going to stop; we have to stop them. That’s why I’m running for U.S. Senate.”

The California primary is expected to be extremely expensive, and Schiff has been a skilled fundraiser: According to a Nov. 28 filing with the Federal Election Commission, he had more than $20 million in his campaign account.

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