Katie Porter faces backlash after claiming California Senate race was 'rigged'

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Friday, March 8, 2024
Katie Porter faces backlash after claiming Senate race was 'rigged'
Katie Porter is catching flack for saying the system to select candidates in California's U.S. Senate race was "rigged."

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- While Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican former Dodger Steve Garvey prepare for a November runoff election after topping a crowded field of candidates looking to claim the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the late Dianne Feinstein, Katie Porter on Thursday was catching flack for saying the system to select candidates in the race was "rigged."

Porter, a member of Congress representing Irvine who finished third in the primary election, posted on social media Wednesday that donors supporting Schiff used their money "to rig this election."

"Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign and voted to shake up the status quo in Washington. Because of you, we had the establishment running scared -- withstanding 3 to 1 in TV spending and an onslaught of billionaires spending millions to rig this election," Porter said in a post after the race was called.

According to early results from Tuesday's primary election, Schiff, D-Burbank, led the way among the more than two dozen candidates seeking the seat, earning 33.2% of the vote. Garvey was only about 30,000 votes behind, earning 32.4% of the tally.

Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey secured a showdown with Rep. Adam Schiff on a shoestring budget, but he now faces a daunting question: What's next?

Porter, D-Irvine, was a distant third at 13.8%, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, placed fourth at just 7.4%.

Sen. Alex Padilla, California's former chief elections officer, described the idea that the election was rigged as "ridiculous."

"It's not rigged," Padilla told Politico. "As the former secretary of state of California, I can assure you of the integrity of the elections and the results."

Politifact.com described Porter's claim as "false."

"Outside funding is legal and is not equivalent to predetermining a particular result," the website said in one of its signature fact-checking articles.

Porter issued a statement Thursday to address criticism for saying the primary election was "rigged."

"'Rigged' means manipulated by dishonest means," Porter said in a statement.

"That is dishonest means to manipulate the outcome. I said rigged by billionaires' and our politics are -- in fact -- manipulated by big dark money. Defending democracy means calling that out," Porter said.

She made it clear she did not claim the vote count or the election process was rigged. Rather the donors funding candidates are using their money in inappropriate ways. She said the state election process is "beyond reproach."

Many pundits were anticipating a Schiff-Garvey runoff, with most believing it could result in an easy Schiff victory in heavily Democratic California as they fight for a full six-year term in the Senate.

Schiff and Garvey will actually appear twice on the November ballot, with both also seeking to fill out the remainder of Feinstein's term, which ends in January.

City News Service contributed to this report.