The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has officially selected the figure that will take the place of Dianne Feinstein in the United States Senate. The seat will be filled by Laphonza Butler, a Democratic political strategist who has previously worked on several large profile campaigns. Butler has grown as a name in the political world over the last decade but has an extensive career of being a civil servant and working toward advocating for people.
After Senator Dianne Feinstein passed away on September 29, all eyes turned to Governor Gavin Newsom to see if he would keep to a promise, he made a few years ago. Back in 2021, he announced that if Feinstein were to vacate her seat at all, he would appoint a Black woman to take her seat in the interim. It turns out he did stick to his word as Laphonza Butler is a Black woman. This makes her the only sitting Black woman in the Senate. She is also a lesbian woman, making her the first openly LGBTQ+ person to represent California in the Senate.
Previously, Butler has worked on the presidential campaigns for Kamala Harris in 2020 and Hilary Clinton in 2016.
After working as advisors to these political campaigns, Butler became the president of Emily’s List. This is a democratic organization dedicated to working toward the election of more women in political offices. Prior to all of this work, she was a labor leader for one of California’s largest unions, the SEIU 2015. This union is comprised of a membership of long-term care givers, such as nursing home workers.
Many anticipated Newsom to instead appoint Barbara Lee, a fellow Black female politician who is already campaigning for the Senate seat in the upcoming 2024 election. Lee is a sitting congresswoman for the state, representing parts of Alameda County. Newsom has not spoken at all regarding these rumors, only thus far addressing the appointment of Laphonza Butler. When expressing the tragic loss of Feinstein’s support on the many issues she spearheaded fights against, he wrote that “Laphonza will carry the baton left by Sen. Feinstein (and) continue to break glass ceilings and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.”
At this time, it is unknown if Butler will also announce an official campaign for the 2024 election and fight to win the seat for a full term that she will be filling temporarily.