Katie Porter on her first eight months in office

Katie Porter is the first Democrat to serve as a representative for California’s 45th district in history. She will face six Republican opponents in the 2020 campaign. Photo courtesy of Katie Porter

Katie Porter is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, a single mother of three and serves in the House of Representatives to keep “special interests in Washington accountable on behalf of Orange County families.”

She faces six Republican challengers in the 2020 election, one of which being Lisa Sparks, dean of Chapman’s School of Communication. Porter was elected to represent Orange County in 2018 after beating incumbent representative Mimi Walters by about 8,000 votes. Called the “protege of Elizabeth Warren” by The New Yorker’s Dana Goodyear, Porter has maintained her stance on keeping “Washington regulators and CEOs accountable,” while fighting for women and gender equality. Porter is the first Democrat in history to hold the 45th district seat.

“I have been proud to fight to pass the Violence Against Women Act, telling my own personal story to support this incredibly important bill being signed into law,” Porter said.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 includes protection against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, amongst other crimes and misdemeanors. It was introduced on March 10 and passed on the House floor. Though Porter said she believes politics have become more gender inclusive in recent years there is still progress to be made.

“All around town, right after I was elected, the single most common question I got was – “what’s it like to serve with so many women?” Porter said. “At first, I answered by saying enthusiastically, ‘It’s great! We’re going to change the world! I can’t wait to work with this large, historic group of classmates.’ But then I thought a little more, and I started pushing-back a bit.”

Roughly one quarter of Congress is female, and Porter said this has motivated her continuing fight for equal representation. “We don’t have the right to declare victory just yet,” Porter said. “The Trump era – with the president’s disrespectful language – has been hurtful to women. But it has also emboldened a bunch of women like me, suburban moms ordinarily focused on driving their kids to school and packing lunches, to think about how to improve this country for our children and hold the White House accountable for the next generation.”

Looking forward to the 2020 campaign, Porter said that although she is “the most vulnerable female member of the California delegation,” she is encouraged by the Democratic voter registration that Orange County has recently scene. Orange County has 553,023 registered Democrats and 549,254 registered Republicans, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters. The area has historically been a Republican stronghold, with landmarks like the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum located in Yorba Linda, California – about a 15 minute drive from campus.

Porter said that her 2018 campaign focused on important issues such as climate change and student debt,” areas which Porter’s opponent “ignored.”

“Our race is being seen as a test case for whether someone who takes bold, principled stances and does not take corporate PAC money can win reelection in a conservative district,” Porter said. “I am encouraged by my fellow opponents and will continue to work to win the support of all the people in the 45th district.”