Katie Porter, a law professor at University of California, Irvine — and a former student and protégé of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — announced Monday that she will run for Congress in Orange County’s 45th congressional district.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Beach) is the latest Republican House Member in California to be targeted as part of a national Democratic National Committee strategy focused on ousting Republican representatives from so-called “Hillary Districts.” The 45th district favored Hillary Clinton by less than 5% over Donald Trump in November’s election.
Even though the Orange County Register reports that Walters won re-election in 2016 handily “over businessman Ron Varasteh, 59 percent to 41 percent, thanks in part to her $1.7 million to $118,000 advantage in campaign spending,” her challenger could be formidable.
Porter, 43, has already received two high profile endorsements — Democrat Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris (D-CA) — which could be the key to much stronger fundraising than most Democrat challengers might see taking on an incumbent in a nine-point Republican district.
“Katie is a fighter!” Warren is quoted saying in several interviews. “There’s no one I trust more to take on Donald Trump and the entrenched special interests in Washington on behalf of working families.”
And by making the race a referendum on President Trump, Porter courts the possibility of nationalizing her race among disaffected Democrats all across the country.
“Mimi Walters is 100 percent aligned with Donald trump,” Porter told Politico, noting Walters’ enthusiastic and early support for the American Health Care Act — the failed effort by Republicans to repeal ObamaCare.
According to Politico, “Walters is one of seven California Republicans being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this election cycle.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that Porter is particularly proud of her work on mortgage fraud abuse. “Picked by then-Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris [in 2012] to monitor distribution of California’s share of a $25-billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement.”
“It was my job to hold those banks accountable,” Porter told the Times in an interview. “We won thousands of victories.”
The support of her former Harvard Law School professor, with whom Porter co-authored a book on debt and credit law, could bring national media attention to Porter in a district where Republicans have dominated for decades.
According to a March 21st Sacramento Bee story on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) — who is reportedly moving to the left — “[t]he demographics of Orange County are shifting, with growing numbers of minority voters, particularly Latinos.”
David Wasserman, an analyst of U.S. House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, told the Bee: “Democrats are much more likely to gain ground in places like Orange County, California than in some of the districts that they used to hold in working class areas. Clearly Democrats’ route to the majority runs through wealthy suburbs.”
Democrats have made it clear that they see a pathway back to power by making Trump the issue — but only time will tell.