California Senate candidate and baseball legend Steve Garvey, who helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series in 1981, is looking to bring stability to a "dysfunctional Washington" and is brushing off his opposition in his mission to do that.
Garvey, in an interview with Fox News Digital, outlined why he entered the race as a Republican candidate and dismissed opponents in the race who he said only want to represent half of the state.
"Earlier this year, I wondered, 'Let's see who I can get behind in California that I can support, that had my values and my commitment to this country,' and I couldn't find anybody. You know how strongly liberal [California has become] over the years and generations," the Major League Baseball great recalled.
"I woke up one morning and decided to see if there's a pathway to run for the U.S. Senate."
Since announcing in October that he would make a run for the Senate seat formerly held by late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Garvey said he and his campaign have been active and attempting to make inroads as he speaks with residents across the state.
"We've been actively, over the first probably four months after making that decision, talking to significant people that I trust in the world of politics and then going around California, talking to the people in the north, coastal and central California, and also down south where we are," he said.
Garvey, a one-time National League MVP, played for the Dodgers for 14 years and another five for the San Diego Padres from 1969 to 1987. He's now looking to take the experience from the sport to the halls of Congress.
"My whole life has been based on, you know, team building and putting teams together with comparable skills, leadership, dedication, passion," he said, reflecting on his early years as a bat boy for the Brooklyn Dodgers during spring training in 1956.
Garvey, 74, said his experience with baseball has trained him how to put together a winning team, saying he's "been able to do it in Los Angeles and San Diego and in the community.
"It doesn't stop just with sports teams. It goes all the way into business and politics, in religion and all those things," Garvey said of his team-building efforts. "So, that's the most important thing I'm focusing on in terms of interaction with other politicians."
On his first day in office, if elected, Garvey would meet with each senator to "build a relationship and start to build a consensus that's good for all the people, not only of California, but this country."
Garvey said he witnessed California when it was the "heartbeat of America" but insisted it's now become a "murmur" due to the financial and safety challenges faced by those living in the state.
Garvey's campaign has prioritized a number of subjects as he travels the state and speaks with voters, including inflation, crime, education, homelessness and support for law enforcement.
"The challenges of hardworking Californians getting up every day and knowing that, under our economy now and inflation, that by the time the month's over, they could be losing seven, eight, $900. And that's when they're even managing their daily lives well," Garvey said. "The food and the gas and education for their children, clothing ... all of these things are due to inflation that's risen so much that it's tough to stay above water.
"What I'll focus on is getting back to a free market, capitalism, that will target small businesses," he added. "You know, there's so many people that want to start businesses and small market businesses. Small businesses are the foundation of the business world, especially here in California. So many of those people who wanted to start small businesses have left California."
Touching on the safety of those who live in the state, Garvey said, "Crime is just glaring here in California.
"These steal-and-smash mobs that are going around are something that started in the last year or two. Not only is it about thievery, it's about danger to people."
Praising the Golden State's "hardworking police and sheriffs" who are "committed to serving the people and providing peace," Garvey said there must be more done to ensure that those who are getting locked up are not immediately freed.
"They're putting their lives on the line, taking these criminals to the jails and getting them registered and doing the paperwork and looking out the window and seeing them walk through the parking lot because the DAs have let them go," Garvey said.
"And it's not just the streets of downtown and in other areas closer to town. It's neighborhoods where people have to really question whether they can go out and walk at night or maybe sometimes in the daytime."
On the issue of homelessness, Garvey said it's important to understand what "pathways" those living on the streets "have to being able to reconnect their lives when you know they're going through physical, mental and spiritual challenges."
"I think we also have to deeply consider our own citizens who have to be protected on the streets," he said. "I think the best way to do it is start to develop programs that will get the homeless off the streets into a warm, secure area that's going to be able to give them the psychological, physical and mental (reunion) with society.
"A lot of these homeless people are veterans," he added. "One of my focuses is gonna be getting back to taking care of these veterans, men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country, and not dismiss them once they're out of service or trying to get back into society."
As for education, Garvey, who has children and grandchildren of his own, said there has been an "attack" on the family unit.
"Parents [are] feeling that they're not able to provide safety and a pathway for their children to be educated adults so that they can go out in the world and be productive," he said. "I think we need to get back to education that gets to core issues – core issues of preparing our children and getting away from social issues that have the tendency to confuse our children."
A Republican hasn’t been elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate since Pete Wilson in 1988, when he won re-election over Leo T. McCarthy. Wilson stepped down when he became governor of California in 1991 and appointed John Seymour to serve in his place.
Feinstein defeated Seymour in the state's 1992 election and held the seat until her death in September. Laphonza Butler was appointed to serve out the remainder of Feinstein’s term.
Heavy hitters in the Democratic Party will be vying for the seat, including Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee. The Republican side includes 2022 U.S. Senate candidates James Bradley and Sarah Sun Liew, 2020 congressional candidate Eric Early and 2022 congressional candidate Jonathan Reiss.
Asked about his competition in the race and how he plans to beat his challengers, Garvey responded, "I'm not concerned with my opposition.
"It sounds funny, but I'm concerned with messaging to the people of California," he added. "The Californians, we have found out, have felt that they've been in a malaise. It's easy in this state because of the beauty of it. … Because of the economy and because of the homelessness on the streets and the challenge in our schools and our churches, they have been looking for somebody that they can believe in, that they know. And they know me pretty well."
Garvey insisted he's on "a tour of awakening Californians and getting them to realize that Steve Garvey is for all the people.
"I always say I never played for Democrats or Republicans or independents or libertarians. I played for all the fans, and I'm playing right now," he said.
"I'm running for all the people, and my opponents can't say that. They're only running for half the people. They show it every day. They go to Congress [and] they're there to forward their career. I'll be a one-term, six-year senator who will step up to the plate every day and go to bat for the people of California who know there's a better life and need somebody to be their voice. They'll be the wind beneath my wings, too," he added.
Garvey said he plans to improve the "quality of life" and attempt to relieve economic burdens for those who call California home.
"I'm here to further the quality of life of Californians, and that's looking at each policy and doing what's best for them," he said.
During a career spanning 19 years, including 14 with the Dodgers, Garvey batted .294 with 272 home runs and 1,308 runs batted in. The first baseman known for his Popeye-like forearms was a 10-time all-star, and won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1974, when he hit .312 with 21 home runs and 111 runs batted in.
The primary election is scheduled for March 5, 2024, with the general election taking place Nov. 5, 2024.
Fox News' Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.