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Katie Porter loses bid for Senate in California

Ex-law professor known for pointed questioning edged out by ex-baseball player

Democratic Rep. Katie Porter did not win one of the two spots on the November ballot in Tuesday's all-party primary for the open Senate seat in California.
Democratic Rep. Katie Porter did not win one of the two spots on the November ballot in Tuesday's all-party primary for the open Senate seat in California. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Katie Porter, the whiteboard-wielding single mother of three who rode a wave of anti-Trump resistance and turned an Orange County district blue in 2018, fell short in her race for Senate Tuesday.

Porter’s fellow House Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, and Republican former Major League Baseball player Steve Garvey secured seats on the November ballot after finishing in the top two in California’s nonpartisan primary to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein. More than two dozen candidates were competing in the race.

Porter had less than 15 percent of the vote to Garvey’s 29 percent and Schiff’s nearly 37 percent when The Associated Press made a call that Garvey had secured the second spot at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning. Schiff had been called the winner of the top spot a half hour earlier.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee also finished fourth in the race. Like Porter, she will leave Congress when her House term ends in January.

Porter, who holds degrees from Harvard and Yale, was a consumer law attorney and a professor at the University of California, Irvine who had never held elected office before flipping a seat in 2018. 

She proved to be a prodigious fundraiser and a skilled politician whose pointed questioning and sharp takedowns of everyone from Trump administration officials to corporate CEOs racked up millions of views on YouTube.

But Porter’s ability to raise campaign cash lagged behind Schiff’s, who brought in $32.8 million to Porter’s $28 million. Schiff’s gambit to run ads focusing on Garvey boosted the Republican’s underfunded campaign and effectively blocked Porter from winning one of the November ballot slots.

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