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    17 News sits down for one-on-one interview with Senate candidate and Rep. Adam Schiff

    By Jenny Huh,

    14 days ago

    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The race to succeed the late Senator Dianne Feinstein is growing more competitive, as the top two vote getters of the March primary election — a Republican and Democrat — advance to November.

    Democrat Adam Schiff, a congressmember since 2000, and Republican Steve Garvey, the former LA Dodgers All-Star first baseman, will face off for both a partial two-month term — left vacant by Feinstein’s sudden passing — and a full six-year term.

    As Adam Schiff campaigns up and down the state, including the Central Valley, 17 News sat down with the candidate Tuesday afternoon for an exclusive one-on-one interview.

    17 News has also reached out to Republican Steve Garvey with an interview request.

    Minimum wage is ‘where it is and should be’ says Senate candidate Steve Garvey

    Below are the details of the conversation with Schiff at Dagny’s Coffee Co. in downtown Bakersfield.

    Kern is considered a pocket of red in deep blue California, but the Democrat is marching on, meeting Kern voters and visiting Bakersfield businesses.

    “[Kern County] is such an important part of our state, puts food on our table, provides a lot of the energy we need to power the economy,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “What would you like to see for your future? And how can I help?”

    “Part of my being in Bakersfield is getting a sense of what are the needs here? When I fight for resources to come back to Bakersfield, what are people here looking for help with? This should be a partnership between the federal government and state and local government.”

    In town to talk to local businesses, visit water districts and fundraise, Schiff explained, “Part of my being in Bakersfield is getting a sense of what are the needs here? When I fight for resources to come back to Bakersfield, what are people here looking for help with? This should be a partnership between the federal government and state and local government.”

    Despite the excitement Republicans have over a candidate like Steve Garvey, Schiff noted people will vote based on the issues.

    “People, if they don’t know you, kind of fall back on party labels,” he said. “He’s a Democrat, he’s a Republican.”

    The senate-hopeful added, “But once they get to know you and understand ‘Hey, he actually wants to do something about healthcare and healthcare access,’ or ‘He’s aware that some of our water districts have water quality problems,’ or ‘He wants to deal with air pollution,’ then you start to make a connection based on a shared interest in solving problems.”

    PHOTOS: CA Senate candidates Schiff, Garvey, Porter, Lee battle it out in Nexstar debate

    Schiff, who has an extensive background in law, touts his record as a congressman who delivers.

    “I brought back resources to fight fire, to provide more affordable housing to deal with homelessness, to build a regional DNA crime lab so we can make sure we are prosecuting those that are committing property crimes or violent crimes.”

    Yet, Schiff said as most Republicans best know him for his lengthy record of confronting former President Donald Trump, Kern’s Republican of choice, Schiff needs to make a name for himself.

    “I think because many people in the Central Valley only know me as the guy that stood up to Donald Trump, they don’t know my focus on all these quality-of-life issues that really matter to them and their families,” Schiff said.

    Schiff was once the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, a member of the January 6th committee and the lead prosecutor in Trump’s first impeachment trial, appointed by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.

    In mid-2023, Schiff was censured by the House for comments he once made on the investigations into Trump’s potential ties to Russia.

    Of his GOP opponent Garvey, Schiff said, “I’m sure that he can explain the designated hitter rule if you have any baseball questions, but I think he’s a poor fit for what Californians need.”

    Schiff said he, on the other hand, understands what the Central Valley needs.

    “I think Kern County’s doing a lot of things right including underground storage of water.”

    On water, Schiff added more infrastructure is needed to collect, store, and use that water, should soil conditions not allow for underground storage during wet years.

    When asked to what extent the government should regulate water allocation to Central Valley farmers, Schiff stated government intervention in certain situations make sense.

    For instance, since some water districts, particularly the smaller ones, don’t offer clean, drinkable water, the government should be able to step in.

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    The Democrat, a supporter of The Green New Deal , also emphasized there’s an inevitable shift towards renewable energy.

    “We need to make sure that we keep up with those changes and that people in Kern County have good job opportunities as the world transitions to renewable energy.”

    When asked, “Is that something you can say with confidence to folks here, again people who would in fact have to go through that transition, they won’t be left behind?”

    Schiff responded, “Well, I’m certainly not going to leave people behind. But rather to sit down with people and ask them, what would you like to do?”

    As for the nationwide concerns of border security, Schiff said while the system is broken, shutting down the border is not the fix.

    “I think we’d see particularly in agricultural parts of the country, like here in Kern County, how devastating that would be,” Schiff said, addressing that a majority of the Central Valley’s farm and construction work is taken on by immigrants.

    “We have to approach this issue out of respect for the dignity of human beings,” he said. “We have been tremendously enriched through immigration, but we need to have the rule of law. That means we need to be able to have a secure border, we need to have an orderly process, we need to treat people as human beings.”

    Senate Democrats push for border bill vote

    Schiff has also been targeting the state’s Latino voters, a population least likely to vote. When asked why his focus on the specific group, Schiff explained, “It won’t surprise you to learn what’s important to the Latino community are many of the things that are important to the broader community. They want their kids to have good job opportunities, they want their kids to have a good education, they want to be able to succeed in business… and the tremendous value on family.”

    He added, “When you press upon folks that these are your priorities too, they’re my priorities too, it develops a connection, and I think this is going to be one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime.”

    Schiff also said when tackling border security, the U.S. must counter narcotics from coming in, as drug addiction is part of the fuel for the rise in crime.

    “Increasing the certainty people are caught, that there is a real deterrent, there is a real accounting and justice for those that are engaging in criminal activity,” Schiff underscored. “This is more important than length of sentence in making sure that we protect our community.”

    Schiff suggested upping community policing could help.

    “I think we’re going to have to increase community policing, which means we’re going to need more police that would help suppress crime,” Schiff said, “I think the governor’s initiative in bringing highway patrol here to Bakersfield helps, but we need to do more.”

    When asked, “So, you do agree with the very commonly discussed rhetoric that California is too soft on crime?”

    Schiff answered, “I don’t know whether soft on crime is the right description, but crime has gotten out of control, certainly.”

    But on statewide efforts to amend Proposition 47, Schiff said, “the jury’s still out.”

    As for homelessness and housing affordability, Schiff declared, “There’s not enough housing, period.”

    “If rents keep going up as fast as they’re going up, incomes are not going up as fast, if we’re not building more housing and bringing those costs down, then it almost doesn’t matter how much we throw at the problem. We’re not going to solve it.”

    Jenny Huh: “Here in Bakersfield alone, we’ve spent millions tackling the problem. California as a state, we’ve spent billions on tackling homelessness, yet it’s still out of control. What is the issue here?”

    Schiff: “The issue is, and you’re absolutely right about all of that. The issue is, we’re not building housing.”

    17 News asked for clarification, “Not just affordable housing, but housing?”

    To which Schiff responded: “Well, yes. We’re not building enough housing, period.”

    Schiff also underscored the need for wrap around services to ensure folks stay in housing.


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    Another issue, Schiff said, is the slow pace of constructing homes. Perhaps federal government incentives for building homes could be of assistance, he said.

    And with needs comes accountability. He suggested the government needs to keep a record of where money is being spent, and what’s working/not working.

    17 News also spoke to Schiff about his campaign strategy in the March primary.

    Statewide, in the election for the full six-year term in the Senate, Schiff and Garvey both received about 32% of the vote.

    In the partial two-moth-long race, Garvey placed first with 33% of the votes.

    In Kern County, 17% voted for Schiff and 55% for Garvey for the partial term.

    For the full term, 18.5% voted for Schiff and 52% for Garvey.

    Schiff’s strategy to “elevate” Republican Steve Garvey alongside him to the November general election garnered nationwide attention.

    When asked why he thought boosting Garvey’s profile was the best strategy, Schiff simply stated, “It never made sense to me to be attacking my fellow Democrats.”

    “The two candidates that have the broadest divergence are myself and Mr. Garvey. And here’s where we differ on the issues. And so that’s what we did. We distinguished between our two campaigns, and I think Mr. Garvey is out of step with where the vast majority of Californians are.”

    When pressed further about the strategy, Schiff stated, “Well, you’d have to ask him about that. He didn’t feel I was elevating him so much as setting out his record in contrast to my own.”

    “Each of us had our different strategy for the primary, and I think our strategy of contrasting myself with the Republican candidate rather than attacking my fellow Democrats was the right strategy,” Schiff said.

    Schiff is endorsed by former Democratic opponents Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.

    Discussing the bigger picture he and the Democratic Party envisions for Kern County when choosing its next senator, Schiff pointed out a trend.

    “The shift in the Central Valley is much like the rest of the state, which is we’re seeing a slow increase in Democratic registration,” Schiff said. “We’re seeing a fall off Republican registration, and the fastest growing party is decline to state, which says that there is a certain dissatisfaction with both parties.”

    The decline to state population, Schiff also noted, is often least likely to vote.

    It remains to be seen how both candidates will sway the undecided voters their way, perhaps determining the outcome of the race.

    Click here for the full interview with Adam Schiff.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KGET 17.

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