California Rep. Katie Porter on Tuesday announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate. Although that’s good news for supporters of the Orange County Democrat, it was met with criticism from fellow Dems who say it was a slap in the face of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who currently occupies the seat and has not announced her intention to retire, despite accusations that, at 89, she no longer has the capacity to serve.
And it certainly won’t go over well with Adam Schiff, the Rep. from Burbank who’s coveted Feinstein’s Senate spot for years but has held off making a bid in anticipation of Feinstein’s retirement announcement. Further ruining Schiff’s day, the new House Speaker—Bakersfield, CA’s own Kevin McCarthy—has doubled down on his promise to relieve Schiff of his plum committee assignment on the House Intelligence Committee. Fans of political bloodsport, however, are in for a treat when this epic battle plays out between two of America’s liberal lions, both of whom can raise tons of money for their war chests.
In a video tweeted Tuesday announcing her run, Porter had combat in mind, saying, “California needs a warrior in the Senate—to stand up to special interests, fight the dangerous imbalance in our economy, and hold so-called leaders like Mitch McConnell accountable for rigging our democracy.” She also promised to fight “Wall Street, Big Oil and Big Pharma.”
California needs a warrior in the Senate—to stand up to special interests, fight the dangerous imbalance in our economy, and hold so-called leaders like Mitch McConnell accountable for rigging our democracy.
Today, I'm proud to announce my candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2024. pic.twitter.com/X1CSE8T12B
— Katie Porter (@katieporteroc) January 10, 2023
Porter also sent out a more direct appeal to supporters Tuesday, in the form of a text, in which she was still set for a brawl, but also got down to business, stating: “This isn’t going to be easy, and winning will only be possible with grassroots support. Small donations are why I won 3 competitive House races even as the GOP spent nearly $10M attacking me last year. We set a $1 million goal to kickstart this campaign and build our movement.” Porter then asked for $15.
But it is this kind campaign fundraising acumen, combined with Porter’s perceived Feinstein dis, that has some in the party going after her. As Newsweek notes, detractors accuse her of raising massive amounts of money telling donors it was to retain her House seat, only to use some of it gunning for hire office.
There is nothing more disingenuous in politics than running for office, raising millions of dollars, and all the while knowing you’re immediately going to announce you’re running for another office a month later.
Wildly disrespectful to your constituents, Katie Porter https://t.co/D9RlXywZ8M
— Kevin Dalton (@KevinForBOS) January 10, 2023
Such protests don’t reflect the fact that it was practically a given that Porter would make the run. Porter’s prominence has only grown since she won her seat in the conservative bastion of OC by a sliver in the 2018 blue wave. Her rise has been powered by her ability to interrogate, baffle and belittle on the House floor such dim bulbs as then-HUD secretary Ben Carson as well as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, not to mention getting the chief of the CDC to promise free COVID tests for all Americans at the height of the pandemic.
Still, if Porter has upset any pols who matter, they’re not complaining publicly. As Vox reports, Feinstein said in a statement Tuesday, “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. 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.”
Bay Area Rep. Ro Khanna, who is also reportedly mulling a run for Feinstein’s seat, used the weather to avoid the subject as well, saying, “Right now California is facing severe storms and floods, and my district is facing historic weather conditions. My focus is on that. In the next few months, I will make a decision.”
Spokespersons for Schiff as well as Alameda Rep. Barbara Lee—who is also suspected of fancying Feinstein’s seat—told Politico on Tuesday that Porter’s move has not had any effect on their plans or timing. However, one source close to Schiff said he is “perplexed” by Porter’s decision to announce in the face of the coming storms.
Could be her timing is perfect.
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