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Porter’s campaign privately urges Dems to look beyond Schiff’s money

These people said they were concerned that otherwise interested groups and elected leaders would sit on early jockeys for endorsements and fail to commit – and that donors could wait and see if Porter’s offer materializes as a real threat before contributing to his campaign. The meetings, implicitly if not explicitly, are organized to prevent this from becoming a reality.

“There is a danger that can sometimes become the conventional wisdom that the person with the most money wins,” a person familiar with the Porter campaign’s fundraising strategy told POLITICO.

Gatherings are also timed as a sort of reboot gun. Several uncommitted donors had said they were keeping their powder dry while Sen. Diane Feinstein was away from Washington recovering from shingles, an extended furlough that fueled speculation a short-term appointment to his seat could upend the 2024 race. Now, with Feinstein back in the Senate, the new rush Porter’s money provides a window into specific viability arguments his campaign is making behind closed doors to help close the money gap with Schiff.

Porter’s campaign declined to comment.

At a meeting, held in late April, Porter pollster David Binder presented attendees – including some from the organization End Citizens United – with a slide show of his latest survey of the race, conducted until the end of April , said one of the POLITICO participants. The Binder poll found Porter and Schiff in a virtual tie, at 19% and 18%, respectively. representing Barbara Lee was back at 6% while an unnamed Republican consolidated about a third of the vote. The most important figures are not far from those of a private survey released by Lee’s campaign on Wednesday which showed Porter with 24%, Schiff at 21% and Lee at 11%.

Schiff’s internal poll was not made public or leaked in internal discussions. His latest campaign finance report shows he paid for the investigation.

The Senate race so far has been marked as much by Feinstein’s prolonged absence from the chamber as by anything that any of his would-be successors have done. Much of the candidates’ time was taken up with fundraising.

Schiff, who had almost $25 million at the end of the last quarter, opens the race with a decisive financial advantage. Porter ended the year’s first filing period with $9.5 million while Lee was $1.2 million as of March 31.

California’s biggest statewide races in recent elections have been defined by candidates with early cash benefits who have gone on to strengthen their position in the races. In the 2018 open gubernatorial race, Gavin Newsom held a huge financial advantage over his Democratic rivals and easily won. In 2016, Kamala Harris cleared the field of serious challengers and was never matched in her financial contributions.

But the 2024 race in its early months could still come across as something of an outlier. And Porter is clearly leaning on his strength in the polls to try to close the gap. A February poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Government Studies, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, found Schiff and Porter nearly tied with Lee, a distant third among Democrats.

In private briefings, Porter’s campaign is focused on her advantages should the race come to a repeat in 2016, when Harris took on then-Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez. In a top-two runoff, Binder told the assembled group, Porter has a 4-point lead over Schiff and also leads by double digits with the Young Democrats.

“Ironically, Katie Porter is more progressive, but Adam Schiff is more radioactive for a good chunk of voters,” said Adam Green, a Porter supporter and co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, alluding to Schiff’s profile as a that villain of former President Donald Trump and his MAGA movement. Green argues that the early numbers show Porter has “the highest ceiling and starts with a very high floor.”

The prospect of an all-Democratic runoff prompted frequent questions from within the group, the attendee said. Other Porter campaign representatives present for presentations so far have been Rich Davis of Dixon/Davis Media Group and Porter’s campaign manager Lacey Morrison.

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