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Sen. Elizabeth Warrenand Rep. Katie Porter during a campaign event on Feb. 9, 2020, in Concord, N.H.
Sen. Elizabeth Warrenand Rep. Katie Porter during a campaign event on Feb. 9, 2020, in Concord, N.H.Matt Rourke / AP file

Warren backs Porter in California Senate primary

Warren said Porter "has a backbone of steel," in an endorsement first reported by NBC News.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Thursday endorsed fellow progressive Rep. Katie Porter in her newly-announced bid for Senate in California.

“[Katie]’s smart, and she has a backbone made out of steel,” Warren says in a video announcing her support, reported first by NBC News. “We need her and her whiteboard in the United States Senate,” the Massachusetts senator quips, a reference to a whiteboard Porter often uses to drive her points home in hearings and that often go viral when clipped online.

Warren’s marks the first major endorsement in the burgeoning primary battle for the California seat— still currently occupied by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Porter officially announced her intention to seek the seat on Tuesday, even though Feinstein has not yet said if she is running for a sixth term.

For Warren, it’s an endorsement that’s both political and personal.

The two met “long before either one of us thought about elected office,” Warren says in the video.

Porter is former top student of Warren’s at Harvard Law School, and the two have done extensive work together on issues like bankruptcy and consumer protections that they now legislate around in Congress. Porter also served as one of three national co-chairs to Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign, stumping for her on the campaign trail as a key surrogate in important early states, like Iowa.

The endorsement marks Warren’s first of the 2024 cycle and a continuation of her efforts to bolster progressive candidates across the country.

But it could also set Porter apart at the outset of what’s likely to be a crowded and bruising primary fight for a rare open Senate seat in blue California.

Several other Democrats have their eye on the seat— including several of Porter’s colleagues in the California delegation. Reps. Adam Schiff and Ro Khanna have expressed interest in running. And Rep. Barbara Lee told her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus during a closed door meeting Wednesday that she had plans to run herself, according two sources familiar with the discussion.

Lee, as well as Schiff, has previously spoken with Feinstein about her plans, but one of the sources cautioned to NBC News that Lee’s conversation within the CBC was not so much an official announcement as it was her responding to questions from her colleagues about a race that’s been getting buzz around Congress.

Feinstein, for her part, she said in a statement in response to Porter’s bid, “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.”