Katie Porter Running for Feinstein’s Seat While She’s Still in It

The race is on before the 89-year-old has announced her intentions.

WaPo (“Rep. Katie Porter announces run for U.S. Senate in California“):

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday she is running for U.S. Senate in 2024, amid uncertainty over whether Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will seek a sixth full term that year.

In an email to her supporters, as well as a video posted to her social media accounts, Porter touted her background as a minivan-driving single mom of three better known for her use of a whiteboard in the House than for being a “career politician.”

“I’m running for the U.S. Senate because Californians deserve a warrior fighting for them in Washington,” Porter, 49, wrote. “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.”

Feinstein, 89, last year filed initial paperwork to run for reelection in 2024 but has not explicitly said whether she will seek another term. California’s other senator, Democrat Alex Padilla, 49, won his first full term in November and won’t be up for election again until 2028.

“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.”

Feinstein, the oldest sitting senator, has for years waved off questions about her age and ability to serve but has also relinquished a number of key roles in recent years. She stepped down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee before the 117th Congress.

Last year, Feinstein declined consideration to become president pro tempore of the Senate, a position that traditionally goes to the most senior senator of the party in power and is third in line to the presidency. The role instead went to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

Porter, who represents large swaths of Orange County, was first elected to Congress in 2018. After redistricting last year, Porter narrowly won reelection in November — now in California’s 47th Congressional District — by about three percentage points.

The race for Feinstein’s seat, regardless of whether Feinstein runs for reelection, is likely to be a competitive and expensive one. A number of California Democrats are said to be exploring Senate runs, including Reps. Ro Khanna and Adam B. Schiff, who has said he would seriously consider a bid if Feinstein were to retire.

Khanna said that he was focused on the severe storms and floods in California and that he would make a decision “in the next few months.”

A person familiar with Schiff’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said Tuesday that Schiff would determine his own timeline. It’s not dictated by what Katie Porter does, nor would it ever be,” the person said, also citing the California storms. “I don’t think you announce your next political steps in the middle of a natural disaster where 15 people are already dead and more could come.”

Should Feinstein step down before the end of her term, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he would appoint a Black woman to fill the role.

POLITICO (“Katie Porter launches Senate campaign for Feinstein’s seat“) adds:

“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,” Porter (D-Calif.) said in a tweet announcing her candidacy.


Porter, a three-term congresswoman, is well positioned to run a powerful Senate campaign. The progressive Democrat is a prolific fundraiser, with $7.7 million on hand as of the end of 2022 and $25 million raised in the last cycle.

But even with Porter’s impressive fundraising and ability to appeal to swing voters, the race is expected to be highly competitive — especially given California’s primary system, which could pit two Democrats against each other in the 2024 general election.

Porter’s announcement quickly rippled through California’s broader campaign landscape. Former Assemblymember Scott Baugh, a Republican, said he would seek the seat in 2024 after unsuccessfully challenging Porter in 2022. The lack of an incumbent could boost Republican prospects to flip the battleground Orange County seat.

Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman does not intend to run for Porter’s seat, a representative said. A representative for Democratic state Sen. Dave Min — who finished behind Porter in the 2018 primary — did not respond to a request for comment.

I don’t have enough of a sense of California politics to know how competitive Porter will be against Schiff or Khanna. I must confess that the timing of the announcement, both before giving Feinstein a chance to step down gracefully and in the midst of a natural disaster, seems tacky.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott says:

    I must confess that the timing of the announcement, both before giving Feinstein a chance to step down gracefully and in the midst of a natural disaster, seems tacky.

    I’m not a Californian but, I’m sorry, but someone the age of Feinstein, needs to be pushed if she doesn’t have the good sense to “step down gracefully”. In this age of endless campaigning, time’s a wasting.

  2. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The announcement seems tone deaf to me, too, but Feinstein is one of many senators who probably should be replaced with younger career politicians (since “politician” has moved from the public service sector service to a means of permanent employment). ETA: Feinstein’s quip about devoting her time to addressing the flooding in her state was a good riposte, though. I’m glad her aide was able to wake her up to make it. Good work on the part of her writing staff, too.

  3. MarkedMan says:


    but someone the age of Feinstein

    More important than her absolute age, is that she has been publicly been showing signs of diminished capacity for a few years. And it seems that she (and her staff) has been attempting to minimize her unscripted moments.

    before giving Feinstein a chance to step down gracefully

    She has had several years to step down gracefully and she has declined to do so. It is an unfortunate side effect of diminished capacity that one of the first things to go is awareness of just how much one’s capacity has been diminished.

  4. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: One of the most notable moments recently came when it was reported she’d announced she was choosing to pass on the president pro tem role, but when a reporter asked her about it she didn’t remember saying it (which in fairness she probably didn’t).

  5. Kylopod says:

    Also, serious question: When’s the last time a Senator has declined the pro tem role? Has it ever happened before?

  6. charon says:


    I’m not a Californian but, I’m sorry, but someone the age of Feinstein, needs to be pushed if she doesn’t have the good sense to “step down gracefully”.

    I disagree with age as a criterion. But – DiFi is clearly senile, as in cognitively impaired, it is long past time for her to be retired.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    Porter’s announcement maybe tacky, but it’s not a sure thing that Feinstein would step down at the end of the term. Given that Cali uses a form of RCV and the dominance of Dems, Feinstein’s Nov opponent would likely be a Dem anyway. But that’s a risk that the Cali Dems shouldn’t need to assume.

    Schiff and Khanna should jump in and force Feinstein’s hand.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Given that Cali uses a form of RCV

    It isn’t RCV. It’s a jungle primary, which is basically a form of runoff, but it’s distinct from RCV where voters get to choose multiple candidates on a single ballot.

  9. ImProPer says:

    “Porter touted her background as a minivan-driving single mom of three better known for her use of a whiteboard in the House than for being a “career politician.”

    I was unfamiliar with the congresswoman and browsed her Wikipedia page. Not only is she a
    “minivan-driving single mom of three better known for her use of a whiteboard”, but she also has quite an impressive ivy league education, and career, which includes a second term in the house, and now the announced run for the senate. I’m not sure of when one officially becomes a “career politician”, (which imo is not a pejorative), but it surely is atleast a nearly realized goal by now. All snark aside, I actually find it refreshing to see a younger political player, attempting to grasp the ring of power from an elderly one that refuses to give it up. It gives me hope for the future. It is the lack of authenticity that would concern me with this potential candidate, if I were a California resident.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    While She’s Still in It

    Is she, though?

  11. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: I feel like the most telling moment was when she asked a Senate witness the *exact same question she had just asked*–which the witness had just answered. IIRC, the witness very graciously re-answered the question.

    I honestly do not understand this desire to hang on. Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd both stuck around for far longer than they should have. My feeling is that this is due to professional staff both handling pretty much everything, and not wanting to find new jobs, as only a handful are likely to be kept for continuity when a new Senator (of the same party) is elected.

  12. Kylopod says:

    @Jen: I think the entire tradition of president pro tem (putting the Senator who’s been there the longest third in line for the presidency) is utterly bonkers.

  13. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: Agreed, when they linger like some do. In a perfect world, the Senator who has been there the longest (who retains full use of their faculties) would be the one with the greatest institutional knowledge. But that ship has sailed with a bunch of senators, not just Feinstein.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Porter’s announcement maybe tacky

    Maybe. But we have no idea what went on up until she announced. Did this really come out of the blue with Feinstein and her staff having no idea it was coming? I doubt we will ever know unless some staffer writes a tell all book ten years from now.

  15. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’ve been the sole caregiver for my mom since 2014. As others have noted, she is the worst person at recognizing / admitting / accepting the various ways in which her abilities have diminished. More than once, she’s needed an external push to realize the obvious, and in many situations, the process goes in a “two steps forward, one step back” manner and takes quite a while.

    I have zero problem with Porter, or anyone else, forcing her Feinstein’s hand. There’s probably at least a half dozen sitting Senators at any point in time that deserve the same.

  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    Alex Padilla’s opponent in the general was a Republican, not another Democrat. So there’s some life left in the R party. Porter, who runs well in a district that has long been an R stronghold, would probably do well if matched against another D in the general, but how will she do in the jungle primary? I’m not sure she’s going to get a lot of crossover votes.

  17. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Tacky timing, and Feinstein needs to be pushed aside. As for Porter, she’s one of, if not the, best at eviscerating corporate talking heads in Congress. Some funny videos on YouTube of her making them squirm. I’d be very pleased to see her as a Senator (even though I’m not a Californian so my opinion is utterly pointless).

  18. wr says:

    @ImProPer: “It is the lack of authenticity that would concern me with this potential candidate, if I were a California resident.”

    I suggest you move past Wikipedia and look for youTube clips of Katie Porter grilling corrupt CEOs in Congressional hearings. Anyone who has ever seen her knows that “authenticity” is not a problem for her.

  19. wr says:

    Two reasons I’m glad I’m not living in California anymore: 1) the storms. 2) the prospect of having to choose between Katie Porter and Adam Schiff for the senate…

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: You bring up an interesting point. I worry about the Dem’s bench insofar as Presidential Candidates go, but they do have a sh*tload of good Congress-critters. It’s a shame that Congress alone is not much of training ground for the Presidency.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: Additionally, the quote cited by ImProPer notes that Porter is better known for the other qualities than for being a career politician. Porter is not claiming to not be a career politician based on the quote; I’m not sure I see where inauthenticity enters in.

  22. Kylopod says:

    I’m a little puzzled why she struggled so much in her 2022 reelection. As I understand it, redistricting caused her to be moved from CA-45 to CA-47. According to Ballotpedia, under its new boundaries Biden would have carried CA-47 by over 11 points.

  23. al Ameda says:

    Californian here.
    I respect Dianne Feinstein a lot, but her time has come and gone.
    Katie Porter has been elected and re-elected to the House in the 47th Congressional District in Orange County, a red-but-purplish district. She’s very sharp. I think she’s smart to get out in front on this, and frankly I don’t see a downside. Who else is going to get after it here? Gavin Newsome? Adam Schiff? Perhaps. But so what. Bring it.

  24. wr says:

    @al Ameda: “Who else is going to get after it here? Gavin Newsome? Adam Schiff? Perhaps.?

    Not Newsom — I believe he’s looking for a straight shot to the White House. Schiff almost definitely. And now Barbara Lee. Who might have a step up if Feinstein retires. Newsom has said he’d appoint a Black woman to the position and now that she’s said she wants it, where else would he go?

  25. ImProPer says:


    “I suggest you move past Wikipedia and look for youTube clips of Katie Porter grilling corrupt CEOs in Congressional hearings.”

    I haven’t seen any of her grilling corrupt
    CEOs but will check it out. That is some of what I look for in a political leader, I want a competent ass kicker, not necessarily an “inspirational” hard luck story. I read some tweets about her after posting the above, they appeared critical of her toughness, purported ivy league snobbery, and alleged mistreatment of her assistants. Characteristics that still seem to unfairly harm competent, and powerful women running for office. Perhaps her campaign felt the need to soften her up image with the underdog angle.

  26. Gustopher says:

    @wr: Hopefully Porter and Schiff will settle that quickly and out of the public eye, with a drinking contest or a wrestling contest or whatever. Or donors will favor one over the other early on.

    I would hate to go from both of them in the House to one in the Senate and the other out of politics.

  27. ImProPer says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “I’m not sure I see where inauthenticity enters in.”

    Good call pointing out the “better known”, as it adds a bit more context.
    I was too quick to judge what first appeared to be an accomplished career politician playing an underdog card, bashing on “career politicians”
    I would also point out that using the word inauthentic instead of bull shit was pretty inauthentic. I do now however withdraw it in my description of the Congresswoman.

  28. anjin-san says:


    “I’m not a Californian…”

    I’ve been here since before Feinstein entered politics. She should have left gracefully years ago. It is evident that she has been suffering from cognitive impairment for some time. I’m sympathetic, having watched several family members suffer horribly from Alzheimer’s. That being said, I think Porter will make a great senator, and I hope someone close to Feinstein can convince her to resign and leave office with some dignity.

  29. de stijl says:

    I have spent a good portion of my life trying to cope with dementia in relatives. Rule number 1: it fucking sucks, hard! Don’t take it personally.

    Rule 2: I fundamentally know that a person afflicted should not be in charge of anything other than lunch. Even that can backfire spectacularly.

    She was a pretty influential senator and executed the demands of her office well, but her serving now is just a farce. Feinstein served her constituents well and for a long time.

    Man, this hits really hard! Too many memories. But she has to bow out. Letting your relative rattle on about a Sadie Hawkins high school dance held 60 years ago is fine and appropriate. Listen and hold her hand. The stories are often insightful and reveal a lot of unstated backstory into their lives. Letting her serve as a US Senator is not appropriate.

    It is grotesque, actually. On many levels. Please, someone, stop it.


    My grandmother shared with me that love of her life was a woman. I never knew that! Ten seconds later she thought I was her grandfather. A minute after that she did not recognize me at all and thought I was an intruder.

    Alzheimer’s is a shockingly sad and infuriating condition. Then I witnessed it again in my mother. Held her hand, too, as she reminisced about decades ago childhood memories as if they were happening now. Called me many various names. I kinda hated her. I just held her hand. She liked that.

    If genes point me down that path I’m gonna nope out quick and fast. I know the end of that path and I do not want it. Ever. At all. Hopefully not. Time will tell.

  30. Barry says:

    James, Feinstein does not have a moral right to her Senate seat.