Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) announced her candidacy for Senate on Tuesday, officially kicking off what is expected to be a crowded 2024 primary to fill a California seat that hasn’t even been vacated yet.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, is up for reelection that year, but the longest-serving California senator hasn’t announced whether she plans to seek another term.
“I don’t do Congress the way others often do. I use whatever power I have to speak hard truths to the power that be,” Porter said in a video announcing her bid for Senate.
The two-term progressive representative from Orange County cited her work grilling executives from Wall Street, Big Pharma and the oil and gas industry as reasons to get behind her candidacy.
“To win these fights, it’s time for new leadership in the U.S. Senate,” Porter said.
In recent years, Feinstein has been dogged by questions about her mental acuity and fitness to serve, including from some of her fellow Senate Democrats. In 2020, Feinstein angered many Democrats when she praised Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and the GOP senator in charge of her confirmation hearings. The episode earned her a “long and serious talk” with the top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York.
More recently, Feinstein passed on serving as the Senate president pro tempore despite being the chamber’s oldest member, who traditionally gets the job. The post would have put her third in the line of presidential succession, but it went to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) instead.
Asked in December if she intended to serve out the remainder of her fifth term, Feinstein said “absolutely.”
“There’s still two years, you know. A lot can happen in two years,” she told The Los Angeles Times.
Feinstein said in a statement on Tuesday that her current focus is addressing the damage from storms battering California.
“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. “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.”
There are several other House Democrats who also may decide to jump into the race for Senate in California in 2024, including Reps. Adam Schiff, Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee.
In California, the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. A crowded Democratic field could theoretically split the vote to the benefit of GOP candidates, but such a scenario is viewed as unlikely because California is very blue and the potential field of GOP candidates is poor.
Porter’s campaign pollster released a survey on Tuesday showing Porter leading Schiff in a hypothetical top-two general election, 37 percent to 26 percent, with most Republican respondents siding with Porter. Republicans have targeted Schiff, a former Trump impeachment manager, vowing to kick him off the House Intelligence Committee.