Opinion | Adam Schiff Is Suddenly a Democratic Front Runner in California

As the House member who spearheaded Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, who played a key role in the Jan. 6 select committee and who has served as a top Trump critic on cable news, Mr. Schiff has been vilified across the MAGAverse. He has earned no fewer than three puerile nicknames from the former president: Pencil Neck, Liddle’ Adam Schiff and, my favorite, Shifty Schiff. More seriously, House Republicans booted him from the intelligence committee early last year and later censured him for his role in the Russia investigation, claiming he advanced politically motivated lies about Mr. Trump that endangered national security. All this, in turn, has made Mr. Schiff a hero to the anti-Trump masses.

At multiple points along the parade route, in fact, people yell their gratitude and encouragement. “Keep it up!” urges Chris (first name only!), a tour guide visiting from Tampa, raising a fist in salute.

When I ask what people like about Mr. Schiff, they overwhelmingly cite his fighting spirit. “He’s a trench warrior,” says Steven Alexander, a local, longtime fan. “Adam Schiff stands up when too many stand down,” he adds. Multiple supporters express particular admiration that the congressman has been “willing to put his face out there” in battling Mr. Trump, despite the personal and professional fallout.

His reputation as a leader of the resistance may have cost Mr. Schiff a committee seat in the House. But it has given his Senate candidacy a major boost, propelling him to a solid lead over the rest of the pack. This notably includes his Democratic House colleagues Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, both of whom, in various ways, would seem more representative of California’s Democratic electorate. (We’ll get to that a bit later.)

Mr. Schiff is, after all, a 63-year-old straight white man who, for much of his House career, identified as a centrist. In ordinary times, he probably would be dismissed as too conservative, too establishment, too vanilla to rep California in all its unconventional glory in the Senate. (The last time the state elected a white guy to the chamber was 1988.)

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