Rep. Adam Schiff sees opening for Southern Californian in Senate race

Rep. Adam Schiff sees opening for Southern Californian in Senate race
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) talks on his phone while riding the House subway on Jan. 28 on Capitol Hill. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) said that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's decision not to run for the U.S. Senate "means that there is a profound opportunity for a strong Southern California candidate" and signaled he is open to being that person.

"I think there's a real hunger to have a representative from the south, and so that's wide-open," Schiff said in an interview at the Capitol. "I'm certainly giving it a lot of thought."

Villaraigosa surprised many with his announcement Tuesday that he would pass on the race. His decision cemented state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris' status as the front-runner to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D).

Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) and Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) have also not ruled out Senate candidacies. Members of the House face a particularly difficult choice in whether to abandon relatively safe seats for what would be an uphill statewide race.

But California's top-two primary system has not been tested in a major open statewide contest like this, and a candidate like Schiff, who has an image as a political moderate, could appeal beyond the traditional Democratic base that has been coalescing around Harris.

Schiff was just installed as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and has said that new position would weigh in his consideration. The eight-term lawmaker has also been a prominent voice in the debate over the White House's request for a new authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

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