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Porter announces 2024 run for Feinstein seat in Senate

Feinstein passed on chance to become Senate president pro tem

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., said Tuesday she's running for Senate in 2024.
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., said Tuesday she's running for Senate in 2024. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Democratic Rep. Katie Porter is jumping into the state’s 2024 Senate race, not waiting for Sen. Dianne Feinstein to decide whether to retire.

“The threat from so-called leaders like Mitch McConnell has too often made the United States Senate the place where rights get revoked, special interests get rewarded and our democracy gets rigged,” Porter said in a video message announcing her candidacy. “California needs a warrior in Washington.”

Porter, who won her third term in November by just 4 percentage points, gained national attention during the two years she served during the Trump administration with sharp questions during hearings of the Financial Services Committee, frequently skewering not only administration officials but also banking industry executives.

She then moved to the Oversight and Reform Committee, which is being renamed the Oversight and Accountability panel with the Republican majority in the new Congress.

If Feinstein, who turns 90 later this year, does in fact announce plans to retire, there will a hot contest among Democrats to replace her in a seldom-open, safely Democratic seat. Feinstein is the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate and passed on the opportunity to be the chamber’s president pro tempore this year.

“Everyone is of course welcome to throw their hat in the ring, and I will make an announcement concerning my plans for 2024 at the appropriate time,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Right now I’m focused on ensuring California has all the resources it needs to cope with the devastating storms slamming the state and leaving more than a dozen dead.”

California uses a top-two primary system in which all candidates appear on the ballot, making it possible that a general election contest becomes a race between two Democrats. In the case of the Senate race in 2024, it could be between two current House members.

Porter’s district is based in southern California, as is the seat of former House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif. Schiff, whom Speaker Kevin McCarthy has pledged to boot from the Intelligence panel, was discussed as a potential candidate for Democratic leader before turning his focus to a potential Senate bid.

Schiff sent a fundraising message for California flood victims on Tuesday, as Porter was getting some criticism for the timing of her announcement and related fundraising texts, including from Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.

California has been experiencing powerful storms that, according to The Associated Press, have come with fears of mudslides.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, who represents Oakland, could also make a Senate run.

Porter quickly won the endorsement of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, with co-founder Adam Green saying, “On a gut level, Katie knows how to challenge power on behalf of families. We’ve been fighting alongside Katie from the very beginning as she’s taken on predatory banks, corporate executives, and big-money special interests. Now voters are ready to send her — and her whiteboard — to the U.S. Senate.”

As a House candidate, Porter has been a prodigious fundraiser, hauling in more than $25 million in the 2021-2022 cycle. But she had to spend a lot in last year’s campaign against Republican Scott Baugh and reported holding $7.7 million cash on hand as of Nov. 28, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

That’s less than Schiff, who reported similar fundraising in the last cycle but still had more than $20.6 million cash on hand as of Nov. 28. Lee, meanwhile, held about $210,000 cash on hand as of that date.

Porter’s decision to run for the Senate also sets up a potential Republican pickup opportunity for the House in 2024 in the 47th District, as Porter won one of the closest races of the year.

In a statement, Baugh, a former Republican leader of the California assembly, said he would run for the seat again this cycle.

“Even though we were able to raise over $3 Million, we faced a huge spending disadvantage in 2022, but that will not happen in 2024 and I am ready to go to work to raise whatever it will take to restore thoughtful, conservative representation to our part of Orange County,” Baugh said.

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