White Privilege: Katie Porter Says a Black Woman Should Replace Dianne Feinstein. But She's Still Running.

Rep. Katie Porter (D., Calif.) / Getty Images
February 8, 2023

California congresswoman Katie Porter, a white Democrat, said this week that a black woman should fill the U.S. Senate seat she is running for.

In an interview with NBC, Porter urged Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) to keep his promise to appoint a black woman to fill Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D.) seat, if the 89-year-old senator steps down. But the caucasian Democrat took care to note that she is qualified to fill Feinstein’s seat, because she has a track record fighting for black people.

"I have a track record for fighting for the very kinds of issues that make a difference in the lives of Black Americans and Black communities," she told NBC. "Black Americans do not get people helping them with issues like health care, with housing, with being cheated by scam artists, and those are some of the fights I’ve taken on."

Porter’s comments could soon put her in a bind. Oakland representative Barbara Lee (D.) is widely expected to announce her own bid, which would pit Porter against a prominent black woman for the Senate seat in question.

California senators typically hold their seats for decades. Feinstein has served 30 years, while former Sen. Barbara Boxer served 24 years. If the 49-year-old Porter wins in 2024, she could block a black woman from holding state-wide office for years to come.

Feinstein has made no move to step down, and she has yet to confirm she is not running in 2024. Meanwhile, other California Democrats appear to be mobilizing behind a white man. Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said she would back Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), who is also running for the seat, if Feinstein chooses to retire.