Pledging to 'Stand Up to Special Interests,' Katie Porter Announces Senate Bid

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) speaks to supporters, volunteers, and staff at an election night watch party at the Hilton Orange County Hotel on November 8, 2022 in Costa Mesa, California.

(Photo: Apu Gomes/Getty Images)

Pledging to 'Stand Up to Special Interests,' Katie Porter Announces Senate Bid

"I'll fight to protect our environment, to restore the nationwide right to an abortion, and to finally hold corporate special interests accountable to lowering costs for families," the California Democrat promised.

Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter on Tuesday announced her 2024 campaign for U.S. Senate, just two months after winning a tight race to represent California's 47th Congressional District.

The 49-year-old "whiteboard-wielding lawmaker and progressive star" has set her sights on the seat now held by 89-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is widely expected to not seek another term, especially given recent concerns about her fitness to serve in office.

"California deserves a senator that'll fight as hard as she will for working people."

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate because Californians deserve a warrior fighting for them in Washington," Porter said in an email Tuesday. "In the House, I've stood up to leaders of both parties—as both the only Democrat to oppose earmarks and as one of just a dozen members of Congress to reject lobbyist and corporate PAC money."

"I'm not a career politician. I'm a single mom of three school-aged kids in Orange County and I drive a minivan," added the lawmaker, known for her "OVRSITE" license plate. "Plenty of people know me as the 'woman with the whiteboard.' I've used it to break down the math behind important issues, like how corporate greed is driving inflation and how pharmaceutical companies are ripping off patients."

As a member of the House Natural Resources and Oversight and Reform committees, Porter has garnered national attention for using props—from her famous whiteboard to candy in clear jars—to grill pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industry executives during congressional hearings. She is deputy chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Before her 2018 House election, Porter attended Yale University and Harvard Law School, where she studied under Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a renowned bankruptcy professor. Porter went on to work as a consumer protection attorney and teach at multiple universities. In 2012, she was appointed by then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris—now the vice president—to monitor the nation's five big banks following multibillion-dollar mortgage servicing settlement.

"Our work helped tens of thousands of Californians move forward with their lives," Porter recalled of her efforts to serve homeowners. "But for so many families across the country, the harm had already been done. Politicians in Washington bailed out the banks in a matter of days, but middle-class families waited years for help from Washington—help that never came."

"Over a decade after the crash, California families still find themselves stuck," she wrote. "Profits are surging for major corporations, but middle-class wages are stagnant. And the cost of things that matter most for families—affording childcare, sending your kid to college, paying for your prescription—are skyrocketing, while the high cost of housing is pushing families to the brink."

"California needs a warrior in the Senate to stand up to Mitch McConnell, big corporations, and the special interests that try to rig the rules against our families," she said, referring to the Kentucky Republican serving as Senate minority leader. "I'll fight to protect our environment, to restore the nationwide right to an abortion, and to finally hold corporate special interests accountable to lowering costs for families."

"California needs a warrior in the Senate to stand up to Mitch McConnell, big corporations, and the special interests that try to rig the rules against our families."

Porter on Tuesday was swiftly endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC).

"On a gut level, Katie knows how to challenge power on behalf of families," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. "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."

Calling Porter "one of the most fearless critics" of corporate and Wall Street power, progressive political commentator Krystal Ball said she "would love to see her in the Senate."

Max Berger—who has worked with various progressive groups and leaders including Warren—tweeted Tuesday that "it would be cool if Katie Porter was in the Senate. California deserves a senator that'll fight as hard as she will for working people."

Berger added that "Dianne Feinstein needs to retire four years ago."

While Porter is the first to announce her bid for Feinstein's seat, at least two other California Democrats are expected to potentially enter the contest. The New York Timesreported Tuesday that Rep. Adam Schiff "has already hired staff members in preparation for a statewide campaign" and Rep. Barbara Lee "has told donors of her plans to run."

Another potential contender is Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who told the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday that "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."

Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times in December that she plans to finish the remaining two years of her current term and will announce whether she will run again "probably by spring."

"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 Tuesday. "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."

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