(CN) — U.S. Representative Katie Porter, a former law professor and a protégé of Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren from Orange County, California, said Tuesday she will run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Feinstein, an 89-year-old Democrat and the longest-serving woman senator ever, hasn't said whether she intends to retire when her term ends in 2024.
Porter, 49, announced her candidacy Tuesday, saying that she works for California, not a political party or corporate donors, and that she refuses money from corporate PACs, federal lobbyists, and executives from "Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Wall Street banks."
"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 said in a post on Twitter.
In 2018, Porter captured the 47th Congressional District, a seat long held by Republicans in the heart of what once was Southern California's Reagan country. She campaigned on an unabashed liberal agenda and in direct opposition to former President Donald Trump's priorities, advocating an overturn of his tax reforms, supporting universal health care, and endorsing mandatory background checks on all gun sales and a ban on so-called assault-style weapons.
She won reelection in 2020 and more narrowly in 2022.
“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.”
Porter, who studied under Warren at Harvard Law School and who is a former bankruptcy law professor, built her reputation on her fierce questioning of corporate executives during House hearings, often using a whiteboard to illustrate her point.
In a series of tweets Monday, Porter took aim at Republican lawmakers' history of defunding the Internal Revenue Service so that it would be easier "for their ultra-wealthy donors to cheat taxes." Families, she wrote, have since been dealing with delays, and big corporations have been pocketing billions in taxes they owe under the law each year.
"She's trying to get out in front of the pack," said Brian VanRiper, a Southern California political consultant. "She probably wants to be the most well-defined Democratic candidate and gain traction on social media."
It will be interesting to see, VanRiper said, how many other prominent names will come forward to seek Feinstein's seat in what could be a very competitive race.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a grassroots organization that fights for populist political causes such as expanding Social Security, Medicare For All, a Green New Deal, student debt cancellation, and Wall Street reform, already threw their weight behind Porter on Tuesday.
“Katie Porter is exactly the kind of progressive champion Californians need fighting for working families in the U.S. Senate,” Adam Green, the group's co-founder, said in a statement. “On a gut level, Katie knows how to challenge power on behalf of families. We’ve been fighting alongside Katie from the very beginning as she's taken on predatory banks, corporate executives, and moneyed special interests. Now voters are ready to send her — and her magic whiteboard — to the U.S. Senate.”
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