Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), a progressive protegee of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), became the first to announce on Tuesday that she will enter the race for the senate seat of Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who at age 89, is not expected to run for re-election in 2024.
“It’s time for new leadership in the U.S. Senate. … California needs a warrior in Washington,” Porter said. “That’s exactly why I’m announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate in 2024.”
It is expected to be a crowded race to replace Feinstein, who has been in the senate for the last 30 years. Reps. Adam Schiff, Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee have all been mentioned as interested parties.
Although her midterm re-election victory in the House was narrow, Porter is a master at fundraising and has more than $7 million left from her race that she can parlay into her senate run.
It is an early announcement, however, considering that Feinstein has not made any official announcement that she will retire.
She has given signals that a re-election bid is not forthcoming, such as a lack of fundraising, however.
Feinstein responded to Porter's announcement by saying she was focused on the floods and storms ravaging California this week, not on politics.
“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.”
The statement may have been a subtle rebuke for Porter, both for jumping the gun in her candidacy and for doing so in the middle of a tragic situation in the state.
More than 90% of the state is under flood watches or warnings from storms that have been going on since New Year's Day but have intensified this week.
At least 17 people have died in the storms, which have deluged parts of California with more than a foot of rain and the mountains with more than five feet of snow.
A five-year-old boy was swept away on a roadway while he and his mother were being rescued from their submerged car, and a pickup truck driver and motorcyclist were killed when a tree fell on them on Highway 99 in the San Joaquin Valley near Visalia.
In remote areas, some have become trapped by swollen creeks, rivers and lakes, which have also caused mudslides and rockslides in some places.
Governor Gavin Newsom (D) cautioned, “We’ve had less people die in the last two years of major wildfires in California than have died since New Year’s Day related to this weather,” Newsom said. “These conditions are serious and they’re deadly.”
In the middle of the destruction, how can anyone be thinking about who's going to be senator in two years?