California baseball legend Steve Garvey launched a campaign on Tuesday as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that was held by the late Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.
As a former Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres first baseman, the 74-year-old Mr. Garvey brings star power that could, in an already crowded race and despite his age, distinguish his candidacy.
So far, 14 candidates—including six Republicans—plan on running next year, Federal Election Commission data show.
After Ms. Feinstein’s death on Sept. 29, California gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler, a former labor leader and head of the political action committee Emily’s List, to fill the seat for the remainder of the current term.
Californians will elect their new Senate representative in the November 2024 general election to fill Feinstein’s seat.
The most prominent Democratic candidates are three current members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff. Interim appointee Ms. Butler has not said whether she will join the senate race.
Mr. Garvey, who retired from baseball in 1987, told Reuters in an interview that he was running “a common-sense campaign with compassion,” and that he was looking to build a consensus among people and tackle cost-of-living issues in the state.
“It’s time for change in Californian leadership,” the former baseball Most Valuable Player and All-Star said.
Though California has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1988, the soft-spoken celebrity might be more likely to make it through California’s so-called jungle primary, which advances the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to proceed to the general election. From there, Mr. Garvey could pose more of a challenge to Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the Senate than most California Republicans.
“I never took the field for Democrats or Republicans or independents,” Garvey said on Monday, as he stood in the shadow of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. “I took the field for all the fans, and now I’m running for all the people.”
Mr. Garvey said his focus, if elected, would be on “building a coalition that’s about ‘we’, instead of the division that’s in Washington now.”
Garvey declined to describe his politics in detail and would not say whether he supported former President Donald Trump’s bid to become the Republican Party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential election.
“I think I may have the single most challenging office to run for in this country, and I’m so focused on that,” he said. “Come a year from now when I go to vote, I’ll look at the candidates and I’ll vote for the one that I think is best for the country and for the people.”
Since leaving baseball, Mr. Garvey has done charity work for health-related organizations such as Ronald McDonald House and the ALS Society, his campaign said.
Mr. Garvey quipped that baseball was good preparation for the rough-and-tumble of U.S. politics, with his having experienced the “the opportunity to be up, with the game on the line, when 50,000 people were booing me.”
Reuters contributed to this article