Baseball legend and current candidate for U.S. Senate Steve Garvey took a walking tour of L.A.'s Skid Row row on Thursday, not to meet voters but to see one of the epicenters of homelessness in California up close.
"Not only is it eye-opening, it's so heartfelt to see these people in the state they're in. Everybody says let's put them in a shelter here or there. But, let's solve the drug problem and the mental illness problem. That's where we have to get going," said Garvey.
Garvey has never held elected office, but says his time on the baseball fields for the Dodgers and San Diego Padres -- and what he's done since, giving back to the community -- has prepared him to solve the complex issues facing the state.
"I came here over 50 years ago. It's been the heartbeat of america and now it's just a murmur. We have to bring back the vibrancy of California. It can be done, but we have to do it together and we the people can send to a dysfunctional Washington with career politicians. A fresh new face, not a career politician. I'll go there for one term, six years and I guarantee I'll make a difference," said Garvey.
In less a month, ballots will be mailed out. California voters haven't elected a Republican to statewide office since 2006, but recent polling shows Garvey has a chance to finish in the top two and move on to the November runoff.
"Steve Garvey is competitive. He's able to get everyone who is a Republican or no party preference voter who leans right. When it comes to Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, Adam Schiff -- they're all looking for the same voters," said Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll released in late December shows Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank in the lead at 28% Garvey is at 19%, Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine at 17% and Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee at 14%.
According to the California Secretary of State's office as of October of last year, 47% of the state is registered Democrats, 24% registered Republicans, and 22% no party preference.
"Steve Garvey, while he doesn't have deep experience in government. He does have name recognition. Let's be honest, we like celebrities. Is this climate better for Steve Garvey to gain some advantage going into the general? absolutely. You have people with real questions about the direction of our state," said Levinson.