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EMILY’s List backs Weiss in open California seat

Race to replace Senate hopeful Katie Porter will competitive next year

EMILYs List President Laphonza Butler speaks onstage during a Pre-Oscars Breakfast at The Beverly Hilton on March 7 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
EMILYs List President Laphonza Butler speaks onstage during a Pre-Oscars Breakfast at The Beverly Hilton on March 7 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Araya Doheny/Getty Images/For EMILY’s List)

EMILY’s List, the Democratic group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights, is backing Joanna Weiss to succeed Rep. Katie Porter in California’s competitive 47th District.

The endorsement of Weiss, a Democratic organizer who founded the Women for American Values and Ethics Action Fund, is the first of a battleground non-incumbent in the 2024 cycle by the group, which typically helps with fundraising and staff support. It also could lead to financial backing from the affiliated super PAC Women Vote! later in the campaign. 

“As we look forward to the next election, we know that defending U.S. House seats with a record of strong, Democratic pro-choice leadership will be a critical part of protecting and restoring our freedoms in the coming years,” EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler said in a statement, shared first with CQ Roll Call. “Joanna Weiss is prepared to uphold these values in California’s 47th Congressional District, and her work as a community organizer, lawyer, and advocate for women is unparalleled.”

Weiss’ top Democratic rival is currently state Sen. Dave Min, who has earned support from many Democrats in the area, including Porter, who is vacating the seat to run for the Senate.

Min was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence in May, which could be a liability in the campaign next year. Former Rep. Harley Rouda dropped out of the race earlier this year after suffering a traumatic brain injury. He recently backed Weiss, saying that Democrats would call for a Republican who had been arrested for drunken driving to quit the race and they should hold a candidate from their own party to the same standard.

The district is a top priority for Democrats, who need to gain a net five seats to win back control of the House. The DCCC included it in a list of 33 “districts in play” next year. Republicans are also targeting the seat, as well as another open seat in Michigan where Rep. Elissa Slotkin is also running for Senate. The GOP sees them as top opportunities to flip in their effort to grow their majority. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the California race as Tilt Democratic. 

In 2022, Porter defeated Republican Scott Baugh by 3.4 points in one of the most expensive House races of the year. Baugh is once again running, and was endorsed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy last month.

At the end of the first quarter, Min had outraised Weiss, but had $382,000 on hand, while Weiss had $400,000 on hand. Baugh had $513,000 on hand as of May 1. 

In California’s system, the top two vote-getters in the March primary advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.