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Porter regrets saying California Senate primary race was ‘rigged’

Progressive Rep. Katie Porter says she regrets calling the recent California Senate primary “rigged” after losing the closely watched Democratic contest to Rep. Adam Schiff.

Porter sparked backlash for using the word that has become associated with Republican-led conspiracy theories and inflammatory rhetoric about election interference to characterize the outside influx of megadonor money into the race on Schiff’s behalf.

During an interview on the “Pod Save America” podcast released Tuesday, Porter, who lost by double digits to the moderate Schiff, said she used the wrong word when talking about Schiff’s election strategy.

“So, obviously, I wish I had chosen a different word, because what happened with the controversy was it took away from two really important truths,” she told host Jon Favreau, a former Obama aide.

She emphasized that state election officials in California are competent and law-abiding, aiming to diffuse tensions some believed she caused by suggesting otherwise after her defeat.

“I want to really make clear that at no time in, in no way would I ever suggest that there’s anything other than a careful, thoughtful, amazing election system that actually should be the model for a lot of the country, in my opinion,” Porter said.

At the same time, Porter doubled down on her criticism while using different wording after members of her own party expressed strong disapproval of her characterization.

FILE – Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., speaks during a televised debate for candidates in the senate race, Jan. 22, 2024, in Los Angeles. With the possibility of record-low voter turnout elevating the chances of Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey to advance to the general election in November, he threatens to crowd out two other prominent Democratic candidates from the ballot – Porter and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

The Orange County Democrat said “big money does influence our elections” and “outcomes are manipulated and distorted.”

“When you have people coming in spending millions and millions of dollars at the last minute, and that money is not disclosed until after the election so people don’t know about it, they can’t take it into account when they vote,” she added.

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Porter’s critique of money in politics is in sync with other progressives in Congress, especially among those who have disavowed corporate spending to propel their bids.

The high dollar spending issue, unlikely to go away anytime soon, needs to be discussed in different terms, Porter said. She proposed that her party should “find words that connect with today’s electorate that do not, create wrong associations that really do drive a conversation about money in politics.”

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