This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Fresh off a tight reelection win in a competitive Orange County district, U.S. Congressional Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) has thrown her hat into the ring for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat in an election that’s two years away.
The announcement came in a Tuesday tweet:
“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.”
Feinstein, the 89-year-old from San Francisco, has not said whether she’ll run for reelection. Though the names of other Democrats like Adam Schiff and Ro Khanna have come up as possible candidates.
Democratic Party of Orange County Chair Ada Briceño reacted to Porter’s announcement with the following text message to a reporter:
“There is no question Congresswoman Porter’s Senate run has Democrats in Orange County very excited. Her track record for standing up to special interests demonstrates she would be an outstanding member of the US Senate.”
Porter’s bid means that Orange County could get its own senator in a state where most of the power base has been up north, exemplified by figures like former U.S. senators Kamala Harris and Barbara Boxer.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, “You can leapfrog to say the governorship or state or national politics because you have consolidated government,” said Fred Smoller, a political science professor at Chapman University.
“In San Francisco, they have one city, one county, it’s merged. Someone who becomes mayor of a major city like that, you automatically get shortlisted for something like the governorship. So once you can capture that, my God, you can leapfrog as Newsom did … he was mayor of San Francisco.”
Despite having a larger population than metropolitan areas like San Francisco, the path to higher office isn’t as clear-cut in Orange County, where “we’re too dispersed. We’re across 34 cities. Structurally there are some problems for our politicians. It’s really hard for our talent to get up there,” Smoller said.
“That’s what makes Katie Porter’s run really unique.”
As a candidate, Porter stands out not only for being “from the progressive caucus,” but being “a progressive who won from a competitive district – which is a different experience than many of the others, who are coming from relatively safe districts,” said Stephen Stambough, a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton, in a Tuesday phone interview.
In the most recent Congressional election, Porter beat her Republican challenger, Scott Baugh, by more than 9,000 votes to represent an area that spans Irvine and a handful of coastal cities.
Now her Senate bid opens up the possibility for candidates like Baugh to run for her current seat in two years.
Reacting to Porter’s announcement in a brief phone interview on Tuesday, Baugh said he would run for Porter’s House seat – the first to announce his candidacy in that future race.
Later, he announced his run on Twitter:
“Voters are rightfully upset with the dysfunction in Washington and deserve better. I am ready to go to work to restore thoughtful, conservative representation to our part of Orange County. That’s why I’m running for #CA47 in 2024.”
For Porter, announcing a run this early could mean early momentum – and campaign money – for the race in 2024, Stambough said.
“It sounds like a long time but not for a statewide campaign.”