California Rep. Katie Porter (D.) on Tuesday announced she will run for Senate in 2024, putting pressure on 89-year-old Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein to retire.
"California needs a warrior in the Senate," Porter wrote in a tweet announcing her candidacy, adding that she would "stand up to special interests" and "hold so-called leaders like Mitch McConnell accountable for rigging our democracy."
Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns that Feinstein is too cognitively impaired to serve out her term, but the veteran senator has not signaled that she will give up her seat in 2024. Reports that sources close to Feinstein have questioned her mental fitness have also raised pressure on the senator to resign. Porter's announcement will force Feinstein to clarify her future plans.
California governor Gavin Newson (D.) has pledged to appoint a black woman if Feinstein resigns. Porter is white.
Porter, who represents California's 47th Congressional District, could face an uphill battle for the Senate seat. Lawmakers from Southern California rarely fare well in statewide elections, which have long been dominated by the San Francisco Democratic machine that produced Feinstein, Newsom, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The deputy chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Porter has become popular for her brash interrogations during congressional hearings and last week won praise for reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck during the GOP speaker fight.
But the representative, who was elected to a third term in November, has come under fire for not living up to her progressive ideals, declining to provide health insurance for her campaign staff, and allegedly using racial slurs and mocking people for reporting sexual harassment. Porter has often downplayed her considerable wealth in an effort to cultivate an image as a "minivan-driving single mom."
One Bay Area politics expert was skeptical that Porter's announcement will boost her prospects for the seat. "Porter is less well known outside of her home district than other California Democrats—Adam Schiff and Ro Khanna, for example," said Steve Woolpert, a professor of politics at Saint Mary's College of California. "She's been an effective fundraiser, but she'll need to do more than jumping in early to become competitive."
Update 2:17 p.m.: This piece has been updated with comment from politics expert Steve Woolpert.