Democratic Rep. Katie Porter holds on to seat in tightly fought Orange County race
A Democrat with deep ties to Los Angeles may prove hard to hold onto to serve as the next Congresswoman for California’s 16th District, the kind of congressional seat that doesn’t seem to fit the typical political narrative in the Golden State.
Katie Porter, a 30-year Democrat who represented the 16th District in the state Senate, is also the wife of former Sen. Richard M. Nixon, who was president when she was elected. When she ran for office in the heavily Republican district, Nixon’s political machine backed her, and even helped her get elected by backing other Democratic candidates.
Nixon’s political machine backed Porter, as well as other Democrats, in the 2018 House race, which was one of the most competitive House races of the era. She’s been a long-term Democratic member of the state senate, first representing the Central Coast for more than a decade and then the 16th District for about a decade. She and her husband, a former TV journalist turned lawyer, still own Nixon’s company, TNR Productions, and have a home near the presidential library in Yorba Linda.
She was initially backed by the Republican Party, which had some reservations about whether a Democrat could win the seat, but those concerns were allayed when she and her husband campaigned hard. Republicans eventually dropped out of the race after she was endorsed by former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Palm Springs). She beat back a late GOP challenge and finished with 52.4 percent of the vote against Porter’s 48.1.
Porter was in a tough spot as she started her campaign, because her Democratic opponent, businessman John Garza, was widely expected to have overwhelming support.
“The thing that was most impressive to me during our campaign was how quickly Katie was able to get to know everyone in the district, including the small business owners, community leaders and voters who are living in our pocket, a good amount of community leaders,” said Nixon, adding that “Katie really had us all working together.”
Porter said on Election Day that she felt like she had the support of everyone in the country as she traveled around the district looking at polling stations “with no phone or internet” to get a feel for where the district was.
The 16th District has been around nearly 200 years, and it had been represented by two Democrats, then