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Why Orange County Rep. Katie Porter Is Going After Feinstein's Senate Seat

A woman with light-tone skin wears a dark coral top and pin.
U.S. Rep. Katie Porter is running for the Senate seat Dianne Feinstein is leaving.
(Alex Wong
Getty Images)
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Following weeks of speculation, longtime California Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced Tuesday that she won't seek reelection in 2023, leaving the U.S. Senate seat she's held for more than three decades open.

Cue the candidacies.

So far, three Democrats have officially thrown their hats in the ring: Burbank-area Rep. Adam Schiff, Orange County Rep. Katie Porter and, on Wednesday, Rep. Barbara Lee from the Bay Area.

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Feinstein's legacy

Feinstein is the state's longest-serving senator, holding her seat since 1992. She's also the oldest sitting member of Congress at age 89, so her announcement didn't come as much of a surprise. She says she'll finish out her term before stepping down.

Some of her major accomplishments include being the first woman to chair the Senate Intelligence Committee, pushing forth legislation to protect marriage equality and increase pay for federal firefighters, and paving a path for women in politics. Plus, one of the hallmarks of her tenure has been bipartisan relations with Republicans.

Porter's background

Porter is an Iowa native and an attorney. She's lived in California since 2011. She worked as a law professor before working under then-California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris as an independent monitor in a major nationwide mortgage settlement. In 2018, she was elected the first Democrat to represent California's 45th district, and in 2022, she was reelected to represent the 47th district, which encompasses neighborhoods in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

Why she's going for Feinstein's seat

Porter says she's ready to carry on Feinstein's legacy of bipartisanship.

"I've won three hard races here and have been able to win over independent voters and Republican voters that are persuadable, even as I have leaned into being willing to stand up for working families, stand up to corporate power and take on powerful people who are doing wrong for the American people," she said on LAist's talk show AirTalk — which airs on 89.3 FM.

She said she also wants to build on Sen. Feinstein's record on protecting deserts here in California, saying climate is one of the defining global challenges she sees today.

Some of her priorities differ from the current senator though.

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"One is taking a much stronger stance on rooting out corruption and earning the trust of the American public," she said. "I'm a strong advocate for a ban on congressional stock trading — being willing to fight for things like abandoned stock trading and a judicial code of ethics witness disclosure, so we know whether witnesses are telling us the truth."

And then there's housing:

"I'm a mom to three kids, and they're worried that they won't be able to live in California. And I hear that from people all the time across the state. Why go to college in California if you're not gonna be able to afford to buy a house here?"

Listen to the conversation with Rep. Katie Porter

Katie Porter Senate 2.15.23

Who's challenging?

Larry Mantle talked with Burbank-area Rep. Adam Schiff the day he officially announced his candidacy for the senate seat.

Listen to the conversation with Rep. Adam Schiff

Adam Schiff Senate Announcement 1.26.23

What questions do you have about Southern California?

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