GELFAND’S WORLD - I'm enthusiastically supporting Adam Schiff for the U.S. Senate. He just announced his candidacy for the 2024 election a few hours ago. No, I didn't just decide to endorse him this morning -- I've supported Schiff for Senate for years, even before he was running.
Schiff is perhaps best known for his role as a House manager in the impeachment of Donald Trump, but he has been a leader in national security and a spokesman for responsible government for many years. He is also a real representative of what we have come to call the American Dream, being the son of Jewish parents who lived in Framingham, Massachusetts, and who then moved to Arizona and eventually settled in California. He was accepted by Stanford and got into Harvard Law School and eventually became a federal prosecutor.
His biographers like to tell the story of how he managed to win the conviction of an ex-FBI agent for being a spy, after the first two prosecutors failed. You can read about it here. Zach Dorfman, the author at Politico, titled the article, interestingly enough, The Spy Case that Made Adam Schiff a Russia Hawk. Schiff has been involved in national security issues as a Congressman since his election in 2001 and served as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
So we have a whip-smart guy who knows the law and knows how the Capitol works. He fits right in as a primary candidate, being basically a centrist liberal in a state whose primary voters are of a similar extraction. He is admittedly a lot more centrist than his Bay Area competition for the primary, and pretty close to the politics of Katie Porter, his southern California competition. What sets him apart is his deep experience in how the world works, particularly in an era marked by a newly rekindled battle between Russia and the west.
I've heard Schiff speak a couple of times in recent years. He strikes me as somebody with integrity and a strong sense of self, so unlike the current generation of crazies who have been driving the Republican Party. He also manages to give accurate, nuanced answers to difficult questions. One of the best things we can say about him is that he recognized the real danger of Donald Trump early on, and discussed the Moscow connection and Trump's desire to build a tower in Moscow even while the Donald was campaigning for president.
Schiff should have support from the Armenian community for his leadership in congress in recognizing the Armenian genocide.
In a state which has been going two-thirds Democratic in statewide elections, the primary could very well be the determining event in who the next U.S. senator will be. There are a couple of complications. The first of course is whether Diane Feinstein will run for reelection. People are pushing her to resign due to her failing mental status or barring that, to retire gracefully as of the end of 2024, That would allow for an open-seat battle which would likely be between Porter and Schiff. There is also the possibility that Eric Swallwell will enter the primary, although his chances seem minimal compared to the other two. And there is the complication that Barbara Lee, considerably to the left of Schiff and Porter, will draw some votes from the more mainstream candidates.
There is another possible complication, namely that Feinstein could resign or become unable to perform in office between now and the end of 2024. The governor promised to appoint a Black woman should the office become vacant between elections. Perhaps a vigorous primary election campaign among all the current candidates (including one Black woman already in it) would allow for the governor to make an interim appointment of someone who will not be running for the six year seat.
Lots of possibilities . . . and one really superb male candidate for the nomination alongside one pretty good female candidate, albeit one with less experience and less international grounding.
As a long time supporter of Adam Schiff not only in general, but in hopes that he would eventually run for -- and win -- the office of United States Senator, I'm happy to endorse him today for the 2024 election.
January 26, 2023
(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected])