Adam Schiff wins Robert Rivas’ endorsement for 2024 California Senate race

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas on Thursday endorsed Rep. Adam B. Schiff in California’s contested 2024 U.S. Senate race, adding to the Burbank lawmaker’s support from powerful California Democrats as the March primary approaches.

Rivas said he believed Schiff was better positioned to lead in addressing the high cost of living, homelessness and the climate crisis, issues critical to voters in his Central Coast district. The speaker praised the other top Democrats in the race, Reps. Katie Porter of Irvine and Barbara Lee of Oakland, but said he felt a special affinity for Schiff.

“He is an incredible listener and has always been so committed to the issues that are most important to our district and to the communities that I represent,” Rivas (D-Hollister) said. “It’s not that Porter or Lee aren’t, but I just have a relationship with Adam.”

In a written statement, Schiff said he was humbled by Rivas’ endorsement, adding that “Robert has shown remarkable leadership in the State Assembly on the most pressing issues facing Californians — from addressing the fentanyl crisis to improving affordability of housing to the extension of worker protection. “

“My top priority in this race is fighting for an economy that works for everyone, and there are few people who know what that takes as well as Robert,” Schiff said.

Rivas took over in June after a protracted and politically divisive power struggle with previous Assembly Leader Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood).

Rivas and Schiff first met at an event last winter hosted by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, who supports Schiff, and the two hit it off.

“The money that we send as a state has to go back to California, and Adam feels strongly about that as well,” Rivas told the Times.

Although he has served only five years in the Assembly and lacks a statewide profile, Rivas is the highest-ranking elected Latino in California to endorse Schiff in the race. Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla has not endorsed a preferred candidate to join him in the upper house.

Lee has won the endorsements of state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and State Supt. of public instruction Tony Thurmond, who is Afro-Latino.

Recent polling of registered Latino voters shows that their support is very satisfactory. In a survey of 900 registered voters last month by the Latino Community Foundation and BSP Research, 40% of respondents said they were undecided to a candidate for the Senate. Schiff and Porter were the two with the most support, garnering 12% and 10% respectively.

Rivas is close to former US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, both of whom are big supporters of Schiff. This week Schiff’s campaign was released its first digital ad, featuring Pelosi.

“The fact that almost half of the California delegation has endorsed Adam says something,” Rivas said.

Twenty-two of the state’s 40 Democratic members of the House have endorsed Schiff. Some have either endorsed Lee or twice endorsed both Lee and Schiff.

This week, first-term Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Long Beach) announced his support for Porter. He became the first member of the delegation to endorse it, saying in a statement: “She is known for speaking truth to power and asking the tough questions that others are afraid to ask.”

Before getting Rivas’ endorsement, Schiff lost the endorsement this week from Burbank Mayor Constantino Anthony — who announced he was retiring his support of the longtime Burbank resident until Schiff called for a cease-fire in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

This came after protesters picketed Schiff’s regional office last week expressed outrage at Israel’s continued shelling that has killed more than 8,400 people in Gaza since a Hamas attack on Israel early last month that left an estimated 1,400 dead.

Schiff, who is Jewish, said the United States should firmly support Israel, contrasting himself with Lee, who has called for a ceasefire.

Porter has struck a middle ground, saying Israel must not repeat the mistakes the US made after 9/11 and blaming US policymakers for allowing Iran to flourish as a sponsor of Hamas.

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