Inside Katie Porter’s home, 4 a.m. economics lessons and her daughter’s own whiteboard

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Katie Porter has been campaigning across California as part of her effort to be elected U.S. Senator, but she says life as a single mother to her three children keeps her just as busy.

In late October, Porter rushed home to Orange County for a local campaign rally as well as to do some fall decorating at her home with her kids.

What the crowd of over 200 at the rally may not have known is that Porter arrived home late from Washington, D.C. the night before and then went on to stay up late helping her son.

“My teenage son needed help with his AP Macroeconomics homework, so I spent about 2 to 4 a.m. refreshing my memory about the aggregate demand and aggregate supply curve and I could only hope the homework was mostly just for credit and not for correctness because I was struggling, as that was 6 a.m. East Coast time by the time I got to bed.”

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She says she likely only got about four hours of sleep but shows no signs of having that hold her back at this event with a home crowd.

“I’m excited that I made it to this event. There’s been a lot of chaos in Washington, so it’s really great to have a scheduled campaign event happening basically on time and as planned.”

Her top message to the awaiting prospective California voters?

“I want them to understand I am laser-focused on what’s happening in their lives. …This is a community I have represented for a long time. I think it’s really easy for us to get caught up in the intrigue in Washington, but what’s really challenging people here is they are still walking into the pharmacy not able to get a vaccine. (They’re) worried about whether they will be able to get Medicare open enrollment and about whether the government is going to shut down and they will have problems with Social Security.”

“So you’re going to hear me talk a lot about what’s happening in their lives, which is pretty distant sometimes from what Washington is focused on.”

She walks onto the stage and soon jumps right into a marquee aspect of her campaign.

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“Washington is beholden to special interests. It’s why I am willing to hold that whiteboard that matters. And it’s because I have never been for sale. I am the only candidate in this race that has never taken corporate PAC money. Never. Not one penny.”

“I think my willingness to take on how Washington works, to do things differently, doesn’t make me the homecoming queen, but it makes me someone who voters trust. And that is really, really, really important.”

Following her remarks and a meet and greet with the prospective voters, Porter shifts gears as she heads home.

“I have to switch loads of laundry and then I’m going to try to run to the grocery store and pick up some stuff to make some ghost cookies with my kids this afternoon.”

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At home are the Congresswoman’s three kids: teenagers Luke and Paul, and 11-year-old Betsy, who is named after Porter’s former law school professor and mentor Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Betsy has commandeered one of her mom’s famous whiteboards for her own use.

‘I wrote down all the Taylor Swift albums in order and then I made a heart of all hearts,” Betsy said.

Betsy can’t decide on a favorite Taylor Swift song but she does have a favorite album.

“Wouldn’t you say you are in your ‘Folklore’ era?” Porter asks.

“Yeah,” Betsy answers.

Living in a home with three children doesn’t leave a lot of available space for work so Porter makes do with a small desk in her kitchen.

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“People are always like ‘Well, go to your home office.’ And I’m always like ‘ta-da!! This is my home office,’ my kitchen squeezed next to my exercise bike squeezed next to my knife block,” Porter said. “So it’s not a particularly private space.”

The mix of home and office space reflects the balance Porter regularly has to manage in her mind.

“It’s 4:22 and I don’t know what I’m making tonight. So even as you’re asking me if I want to run for president, I’m actually thinking, ‘Will I be able to prepare something for dinner by 6 o’clock or will I have to give up and order pizza?’ Like, honestly, that is what is at the back of my mind,” she says.

Later that day, Porter joined her children, Betsy and Paul, to carve pumpkins on their back patio and to take fall-themed pictures that could be used by her campaign.

“I got these at Sprouts and they were on sale. I was really happy, they were like, two for 10$, they were really a bargain.”

Betsy says she appreciates the effort her mom puts in.

“She’s a really hard worker, and she’s a really great mom, too,” the 11-year-old says, as she carves a Taylor Swift-themed pumpkin.

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Carving her own pumpkin, Porter says her concern for her children informs her work as a legislator.

“I’m thinking about their future, right? I’m wondering, are they going to be able to keep living in California? So when people say, ‘Is California going to continue to attract businesses?’ That’s not an abstract question for me,” Porter says, gesturing to her kids.

“Every time I get on that plane (to Washington D.C.), there is a big cost to me. I am not there to make the cocktail party circuit rounds, I am not there to curry favors with the people in charge.”

“I am here to make sure that my kids and people like my kids have a better life and that’s it. And there are weeks that it feels like a fool’s errand, and there are weeks where it feels like you are really making a difference in their lives. And I think my honesty about that is why California voters should trust me…that, and I carve a good pumpkin.”

Nexstar is following candidates to see what it is like to balance work and family during the U.S. Senate campaign. While there are some policy discussions in the story, the project is intended to capture glimpses of what you don’t see in traditional campaign coverage. All candidates received the request to participate at the same time and the Porter campaign was the first to set aside time. Candid coverage is being published as candidates make themselves available. In order to qualify, candidates must have polled above 5% in the most recent Nexstar poll. Look for features on additional Senate candidates in the coming days and weeks. 

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