The Issue Is: Katie Porter on 'I Swear: Politics is Messier than my Minivan'

This week on "The Issue Is," an extensive conversation with California Congresswoman, and 2024 Senate Candidate, Katie Porter.

Porter, now in her third term in the House of Representatives, is looking to move the upper Congressional chamber in 2025, campaigning of the Senate seat long-held by retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein.

This, on a week when calls have grown, namely among Progressive Democrats, for 89-year-old Feinstein to resign. They claim her long absence from Washington, as she recovers from shingles, has held up judicial appointments and other Democratic legislation.

Porter weighs in on those calls to resign as well as the possibility that California Governor Gavin Newsom would have to appoint a replacement if the seat were to be vacated. Newsom, for his part, has already promised to appoint a Black woman should the opportunity present itself.

In a wide-ranging interview with Elex Michaelson, Porter also discusses the ongoing legal fight over abortion pills, her senatorial fundraising efforts, which have come in below opponent Adam Schiff, her family, being the only single mom of young children in the House, and her new book, "I Swear: Politics is Messier than my Minivan."


REP. PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "One of the things I say in the book, is that while the job, by most of the metrics that we would measure a job by, things like commute times or whether you like your colleagues, this is a pretty tough job. But the work that you get to do, learning from people in California, touring amazing businesses, seeing how nonprofits are solving problems, you get to work with incredibly smart people who care about the country and about California. And so the job aspects of it, you know, the job security, the the commute time, that stuff's pretty rough, but the work is the most amazing, important work I've ever had the chance to do…"


REP. PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think that's a decision that Senator Feinstein is going to make. And one of the reasons that I announced my campaign was out of respect for her, I'm not going to run a whisper campaign, I'm not going to say things behind her back. I respect her work. She's a trailblazer. She made a path for people like me to follow in. But this is a decision that she needs to make. And I think Majority Leader Schumer needs to make a decision about how best to let the committee and the Senate keep doing its work while Senator Feinstein makes her decision…

"I think politicians should keep their promises. And so that's the promise that Governor Newsom made. I have every expectation that he will keep his word. I think that's something we should, as voters, should expect our politicians to do. But I think this campaign will continue regardless of what decision and the timing of Senator Feinstein. I'm going to continue running, because I think it's important that Californians get to make their own decision here. We've had a number of statewide appointments, as you know, Senator Padilla, Attorney General Bonta, Secretary of State Weber, all appointed by Governor Newsom. So I think this is a race about Californians and about what they want for the state's future…"


REP. PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "There's definitely a lot of confusion out there regarding the court's decision, and then the stay that just came out from the Supreme Court, so I think the most important thing for people to know is that as things currently stand, medication abortion remains available in states that do not have abortion restrictions. But I think what we're seeing is a lot of concern about is this a pat, what path are we going down here? And I think we're a country that should respect people's freedom, and that is the freedom to make whatever decision they believe is right for them with regard to continuing a pregnancy or terminating it. And so I think the Supreme Court here has, in staying the decision, has done the right thing. Where this decision ultimately goes, I don't know. And I do think Congress should act. I think Congress should protect the right to an abortion at the federal level so that every person, no matter where they live in this country, has the right to make their own decision…"


REP. PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Just like in a lot of workplaces where we've seen that when you make it possible for people to take care of their personal responsibilities and their family responsibilities, they work harder. They stay longer. They're more effective. They're more focused at work. The same thing is true in Congress. So if we want to have a government that looks like us, then we need to make it possible for people from different walks of life and different backgrounds to serve….

"That means making sure that we have a schedule that lets people get to Washington on time and work really hard while they're there, but get back to take care of their constituents, not just their children. But I often say I have, you know, 700,000 constituents and my three children are the most demanding of them. But so I think it's really about making Washington work better. All of the things that would make it easier to have single parents serve in Washington would also make it easier to have young people, to have people who come from different backgrounds, who don't have wealth and that kind of trappings of power…"


REP. PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "For me, this was a deeply personal experience, it was for my ex-husband and for the children, and one of the things I talk about in the book is how painful and really difficult it was to have this be made into a political issue in the last Democratic primary I faced. And, you know, I think it's going to happen again, unfortunately, in this Democratic primary. And the effect of this can mean that more people who've gone through these kinds of personal and painful experiences stay away from politics, when in fact, we need people who have these experiences fighting for good policies with regard to curbing and preventing domestic violence...

"My ex-husband and I have parted ways. That was almost ten years ago now, I guess ten years ago. And he lives out of state. He would like to go about his life. I would like to go about mine. This is all really painful for my children. And we are trying to have more women in politics, when we're trying to have more diversity in Congress, when people see these kinds of nasty allegations and unfair allegations made, it just pushes people out of Washington. And then it's a vicious cycle because people say people in politics don't have the same experiences we have. So I think, unfortunately, having, you know, false allegations made against you by an abuser is actually altogether too common in our system…"


REP. PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think one of the things about growing up in Iowa is I grew up there in the 1980s during the farm crisis, and so Iowa was the first in the nation for the presidential caucuses, all these politicians wanted to talk to us, told us how important we were, but when the farm crisis hit, when the bank in my small town closed, where were the politicians? Where were all those folks who'd wanted our votes, when we needed help saving our economy, saving our community, saving our way of life? And they were nowhere to be found. And so I think this is part of why I'm so dedicated to oversight, why I'm so dedicated to making sure that when government promises something, that it's not just about the press conference, it's not just about the politicians taking a victory lap, it is about making sure that people's lives really change…"

The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to