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Orange County Democrat Katie Porter Launches Bid for Dianne Feinstein's Senate Seat

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Katie Porter with supporters at her election watch party.
US Rep. Katie Porter (D-Orange County) attends an election night watch party in Costa Mesa on Nov. 8, 2022. Porter, who won reelection in a close race against former state Assemblymember Scott Baugh, a Republican, in the newly redrawn 47th Congressional District, announced on Tuesday her bid for Dianne Feinstein's US Senate seat. (Mindy Schauer/MediaNews Group-Orange County Register via Getty Images)

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Orange County Rep. Katie Porter, a darling of progressive Democrats, on Tuesday announced via video her bid to run for Dianne Feinstein's U.S. Senate seat in 2024.

The 49-year-old, who was first elected in 2018 and narrowly won reelection last year in her redrawn district, has had a meteoric rise in national profile, primarily by deft use of social media and a signature whiteboard she uses in congressional hearings to excoriate corporate executives on issues like mortgage foreclosures, prescription drug prices and student loans.

Porter has parlayed that image into a massive fundraising operation, taking in more than $25.7 million in the last election cycle, more than any other member of Congress except newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

However Porter spent about two-thirds of that haul defending her newly drawn congressional seat against Republican Scott Baugh in November. Shortly after Porter's announcement, Baugh revealed his intention to seek that seat again next year.

In her sleekly produced two-minute YouTube video announcement, Porter said, “California needs a warrior in Washington,” arguing that the deck has long been stacked against ordinary Americans in favor of special interests. Porter promised, if elected to the Senate, to “name names and demand justice” by “taking on Wall Street, the big banks and Big Pharma.”

Feinstein, who is 89 and has held the seat for 30 years, has not yet announced her plans for 2024. But potential replacements, including Porter, have been mobilizing support and building campaign infrastructures amid mounting reports of Feinstein's mental fitness that have called into question her ability to do the job.

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“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 released by her office, in response to Porter's announcement. “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.”

While supporters have quietly urged Feinstein to at least announce she will not run for reelection, she has steadfastly refused to do so. But some state Democratic political veterans, including former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who served alongside Feinstein, say her intentions are clear.

“What she said in that statement — that everyone is entitled to throw their hat in the ring — that says it, then. That's an invitation. That's how I read it,” Boxer said.

Numerous Democrats considering a run for Feinstein’s seat have courted the support of Boxer, who retired from the Senate in 2016, although she recently told KQED that Porter was not among them.

Other likely or possible candidates include Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Los Angeles), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont).

Schiff, who played high profile roles in the first impeachment of Donald Trump and the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection, had a war chest of $21 million at the end of last year and will likely be a formidable candidate for the Senate.

Boxer said she expected a “spirited campaign” to replace Feinstein and has not made a decision about endorsing anyone.

"I want to support a candidate who wants to do something, not be something, you know?” Boxer said.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, a longtime ally of Feinstein, said any Democratic hopefuls should wait for her to announce her retirement before jumping into the race.

"I would expect Sen. Feinstein will make a decision when Sen. Feinstein feels it's what she wishes to do," Brown told KQED.

Brown also argued that experience in elected office is not a prerequisite for mounting a strong Senate campaign.

"You could have George Clooney entering the race, and suddenly you'd have what would be comparable to a Schwarzenegger showing up," he said.


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