Porter’s victory in the coastal Orange County district gives Democrats another House seat the next session – as of Friday morning, they had won 212 seats. But that won’t change CNN’s projection that Republicans will control the chamber in January. Five House races that could affect the partisan makeup of the chamber next year remain uncalled by CNN as of Friday morning.
Porter, a former law professor, appeared to be among the best-positioned incumbents in California heading into the 2022 cycle because of her extraordinary fundraising prowess and her popularity nationally within the Democratic base after her fierce interrogations of Wall Street titans and Trump administration officials at congressional hearings.
First elected during the 2018 “blue wave,” Porter has been widely viewed as a potential successor to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein if she decides to retire, particularly after Porter amassed a war chest of more than $20 million for her reelection campaign this cycle. But amid a tough political climate for Democrats, she was forced her to spend much of that cash. California’s redistricting process also added a complication for the congresswoman: After the new congressional map scrambled the seats in Orange County, Porter had to run in a new district that still included her home city of Irvine but where she was introducing herself to roughly two-thirds of the voters in the district.
Baugh, a former minority leader of the California state Assembly, pointedly said that he was not afraid of Porter’s campaign cash. He ran on a platform of small government and “ending bloated government programs that have outlived their usefulness” – while attempting to address voters’ concerns about inflation and crime. He also said he opposed drilling off the California coast.
Baugh argued that Porter was “working to dismantle our capitalist economy, punish taxpayers and increase the reach and power of the federal government,” while he embraced a future grounded in “lower taxes, more freedom and strong borders.”
A onetime chairman of the Orange County GOP, Baugh lost a bid for Congress in 2018 from a different district than the one Porter ran for that year.