The Democratic Leader Who Won the 2018 Midterm Election

Democratic star Katie Porter fights against a conservative resurgence in O.C.

LOS ANGELES — Last week, the Democratic leader in this state’s top House district, Katie Porter, faced a rare challenge for re-election.

Porter, who is the daughter of two prominent Democrats, was facing a Republican challenger for the first time in her 17-year career.

A woman for the first time in her career.


It was a moment that would be memorable for many reasons.

A moment that would be remembered as a sign of the strength and resilience of local Democratic politics, that of a woman running against a woman who had been in the state Legislature for decades.

It would also be remembered for the way such a challenge was portrayed by a former state lobbyist, Michael Cohen, who would soon resign his post after being hired by the GOP as a top surrogate for GOP candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

A year earlier, Cohen, one of the most powerful lobbyists in California, had told reporters he was helping to recruit conservative candidates for the state legislative races that he held.

“Cohen is not shy about his liberal agenda,” said Kelly Shackelford, a Democratic consultant and political strategist. “There is a huge divide between Democrats and Republicans on issues like single-payer health care and sanctuary cities. This is a sign of why there is such a huge divide.”

Porter has worked her entire career as a liberal Democrat, with strong support from liberal groups, and she has spent most of her adult life on the other side of the political divide.

But she made a stand in the election, even as she faced attacks for being insufficiently progressive and for some of her stances. She spoke out on her support for marriage equality and her opposition to Proposition 8.

She fought back, even as she lost. She won the election, albeit by razor-thin margins, even as the election brought a slew of attacks against her, and she won by a much wider margin than any Democrat has won in decades.

Porter had one major failing in what is often called the “blue wave” of the 2018 midterm elections: She didn’t take it. She waited

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