Feb 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Crypto super PAC unloads on Porter in California

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) speaks during a small rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court calling for ethics reform

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) speaks during a small rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court calling for ethics reform. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Ads urging cryptocurrency owners to vote against Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) in the California Senate primary will hit social media platforms Wednesday, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The super PAC Fairshake, backed by cryptocurrency industry leaders, has spent millions in the primary to try to prevent the progressive Porter from advancing to the runoff in next Tuesday's election.

  • The targeted digital splash from Fairshake will push the anti-Porter ads directly to crypto owners ahead of next Tuesday's primary, Axios has learned.
  • The ad blitz is part of a larger cash splash by Fairshake in the race, where it has already spent over $6 million.
  • Crypto owners tend to be younger, a key voter block for Porter in the California Senate primary.

The big picture: Super PAC Fairshake and its affiliates raised around $85 million ahead of the 2024 cycle from crypto firms and industry executives. Porter, who once questioned the industry's effect on the power grid, has become a main target of the political action committee. But crypto has not been a major issue in the primary campaign.

  • "We are making sure the 8 million crypto owners in California — who are disproportionately young voters who support Democrats — know about her hostility toward the technology and how that would hurt American jobs," a spokesperson for Fairshake told Axios.
  • Porter's campaign argued the ads from the super PAC aren't about crypto, but "a handful of greedy billionaires rigging an election."
  • "The truth is clear — they are spending more than $10 million to keep Katie out of the Senate because they know she will stand up for Californians and take on powerful special interests like them in Washing," Lindsay Reilly, a spokesperson for the Porter campaign, told Axios.

State of play: Porter is locked in a primary against current favorite Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Republican Steve Garvey, a former Major League Baseball star.

  • In California's open primary, the top two vote getters in the contest next week will advance to a runoff election, regardless of party affiliation.
  • A recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California showed Schiff leading the pack, with Porter and Garvey trailing him narrowly.
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