Rep. Adam Schiff announces 2024 Senate run, teeing up a high-profile primary
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Something unusual is happening in the 2024 California Senate race. Even though sitting Senator Dianne Feinstein has not announced whether she'll run for reelection, two Democrats have already launched campaigns to succeed her. Earlier this month, we spoke with Congresswoman Katie Porter.
KATIE PORTER: I think it's time for a change. I think now, given the challenges that we face in this country, more than ever, California needs a warrior in Washington.
SHAPIRO: And today Congressman Adam Schiff announced he's also running for the seat. He is known nationally for leading the first impeachment of President Trump. Congressman Schiff, welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you. It's great to be with you.
SHAPIRO: So explain what's going on here. You said that you checked in with Senator Feinstein before you announced your campaign, but she has said she's not prepared to say whether she'll retire or run for reelection. Do you expect you'll be running against a sitting senator of your own party?
SCHIFF: I'm going to let Senator Feinstein make her announcement when she decides to do so. I have a lot of respect for her and, more than respect, admiration and affection for her. We've worked together closely for years. But I went to see her, sat down with her. She was certainly more than gracious when I expressed my interest in announcing and did not try to discourage me in any way. I think this is a critical time for the country when our democracy is deeply at risk, when the economy is simply not working for millions of Americans who see their quality of life at risk and their kids' future in doubt and has left all too many vulnerable to a demagogue who promises that he alone can fix it. So I think it's the right time for me to run and to champion these issues in the U.S. Senate.
SHAPIRO: The threat to democracy seems central to your message. In the video announcing your campaign, you have clips of Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy and other prominent Republicans attacking you. You describe impeaching Trump as the biggest job of your life. Is the message that voters who are looking for bipartisanship and consensus-building should look elsewhere?
SCHIFF: No, not at all. I think the message is that our democracy is still deeply at risk. And it's at risk in significant part because it hasn't produced an economy that is working for millions of people who are really struggling to get by.
SHAPIRO: Explain how the threats to democracy, which I think everyone would agree are important, cause, in your view, the economic problems.
SCHIFF: You know, I think the combination of a globalized economy and automation have produced tremendous insecurity in our economy - a middle class that is at risk of falling out, working families trying harder than ever to become part of the middle class, folks struggling, working full-time and struggling to have a roof over their head. And if a democracy isn't delivering an economy that works for everyone, then people start to consider a demagogue who comes along and promises that he alone can fix it. These two issues, to me, are inextricably entwined, and we need to address both. They're both existential to the future of the country.
SHAPIRO: California right now is dealing with record flooding, two mass shootings in a week - deep-seated challenges that feel distant from Washington. How do you balance those essential, urgent issues with the federal government work that you are best known for?
SCHIFF: You know, this is exactly what I've done as a House member. And my constituents will tell you I've been dogged in the pursuit of the interests of my constituents. Bringing resources back to my district, being there to face the challenges my constituents have in terms of finding good jobs, being able to afford good health care - these are the struggles that I want to take up for all Californians. People can learn more about my campaign at adamschiff.com. But this is the challenge of our times. And I've been proud to be in the center of this struggle not just in the impeachment but in the January 6 committee, holding those who would tear down our democracy accountable but also being an everyday champion for the economic interests of my constituents and their efforts to provide for their families.
SHAPIRO: California is a very diverse state. And to point out the obvious, you're a white man. Do you think it's important that California voters send someone to the Senate who reflects the state's demographics?
SCHIFF: I fully trust the voters of California to decide what's most important to them at this moment. I think they'll look at our qualifications, our leadership, our track record, and they'll consider race and gender. I think all those factors will be considered by voters. And I trust they'll make the right decision about what the state needs at this pivotal moment in our history.
SHAPIRO: You know, there's no easy way to ask this question, but many news organizations have reported that Senator Feinstein is experiencing cognitive decline. At 89, she is the oldest member of the Senate. If you do run against her, is that something you plan to talk about?
SCHIFF: You know, I want to show Senator Feinstein the respect I think she has earned from all of us. And so she'll make her announcement in her time about her plans. What I want to put forward is my vision for the state of California and the willingness to fight just as hard as I have in the House to ensure that our economy can produce good jobs, that people have livable wages, that they can access good, affordable health care. This is what I want to fight for. And I'm confident Senator Feinstein will make an announcement about what she thinks is best in terms of her future.
SHAPIRO: Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the latest to announce he's running for the California Senate seat held by Senator Dianne Feinstein. Thank you very much.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
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