Schiff’s bid to bolster his progressive credentials for Senate run hits some resistance

Rep. Adam Schiff is interviewed by reporters in the Capitol
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) speaks with members of the media at the Capitol last month.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
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Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s effort to bolster his progressive credentials in preparation for his statewide bid for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s U.S. Senate seat has hit some resistance on Capitol Hill.

On Monday, the Burbank Democrat withdrew from consideration to join a coalition of progressives in Congress after his application became divisive among the group’s members.

Schiff has faced questions about his progressive bona fides, considered a must-have these days for any statewide candidate in California.


He applied in January to join House and Senate Democrats’ most liberal group, the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the CPC, said the timing of the application — as he begins his campaign for Senate against two other members of the group, Reps. Katie Porter of Irvine and Barbara Lee of Oakland — became an issue.

“We have two very progressive members who have been in the progressive caucus for some time,” Jayapal said, referring to Porter and Lee.

When Schiff was elected to Congress, he was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democratic centrists. He left the group several years ago.

He is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, which touts economic growth and fiscal responsibility. Several members of Congress are aligned with both the New Democrat Coalition and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Jayapal declined to speculate about whether the application — which would have gone before the CPC’s executive board and then its full membership — would have been successful.


“It was great that he recognized that [his application] would be a divisive thing to do and he withdrew it, and so I appreciate that,” Jayapal said. “He has a progressive record. His questionnaire was fine. But I think the timing with the Senate race just bring questions around it.”

Lee is a member of the CPC’s executive board. Three other Californians in the group’s leadership, Reps. Mark Takano of Riverside, Jared Huffman of San Rafael and Jimmy Gomez of Los Angeles, have endorsed Schiff.

Schiff was encouraged to join the group in the last Congress “but deferred until the completion of his Jan. 6 committee responsibilities,” said his spokeswoman Lauren French.

“Adam is proud to be a progressive,” French said. “After hearing from his colleagues that some were attempting to make his joining this session political, Adam decided to withdraw from consideration until he joins the U.S. Senate.”

Schiff has been criticized by far-left Democrats for his record, including opposing progressive caucus budgets and formerly accepting corporate PAC money. He will not accept corporate PAC dollars for his Senate race, his campaign says.

Lee has consistently had one of the most progressive voting records in the House.

The voting records of Porter and Schiff have tracked slightly more closely ideologically, according to


In 2019 and 2020, in a ranking of 436 members who sat in the House — with 436th having the most liberal voting record — Porter ranked 359th and Schiff was 367th. Lee was the most liberal at 436th.