Laphonza Butler will fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late Dianne Feinstein. The groundbreaking Senator died on September 29.
Newsom’s decision was not on the political radar screen of most prognosticators.
With the selection of Butler, the decision of California’s Governor will not include any of the currently announced candidates for U.S. Senate in 2024 in California. Those current candidates include veteran members of Congress Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff.
“As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault. Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington, D.C.,” wrote Gov. Newsom in a statement released on the evening of October 1 announcing Butler’s appointment.
Butler will be sworn in to the U.S. Senate this week.
Butler has been serving as the President of EMILY’s List. The fundraising platform supports and funds women candidates and amplifies issues that disproportionately impact women. EMILY’s List was founded in 1985 by Ellen Malcolm and founding members Barbara Boxer, Ann Richards, Anne Wexler, and Donna Shalala. From 1985 through 2008, EMILY’s List raised over $240 million for political candidates.
The move by Newsom could assist him if he should run for higher office in 2024 or 2028. Newsom has been rumored to be on a short list of Democratic candidates who could run for President if, for some reason, Biden or Harris are not options. But Newsom was recently asked about running for President and switched topics to the policies he believed the party should focus on.
Laphonza Butler will be yet another addition to the Congressional Black Caucus, which is now on the brink of having 60 members for the first time in history. Though the current membership of the Congressional Black Caucus is 58, one more Black member is all but certain to enter Congress in Rhode Island after the resignation in May of Congressman David Cicilline. Former Biden White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Deputy Director Gabe Amo won the Democratic nomination for Cicilline’s seat. The election is on November 7.
Butler will be the only Black woman in the Senate. But Delaware Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester is expected to win the Senate seat vacated by Senator Tom Carper. Carper announced he would not run for re-election in 2024 and Rochester announced shortly afterwards that she would run for Carper’s seat.
“Throughout her career, Laphonza Butler has been a strong voice for working families, LGBTQ rights, and a champion for increasing women’s representation in politics. I’m honored to welcome her to the United States Senate. Governor Newsom’s swift action ensures that Californians maintain full representation in the Senate as we navigate a narrow Democratic majority. I look forward to working together to deliver for the people of California,” wrote California U.S. Senator Alex Padilla in a statement.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent investigative journalist and the publisher of Black Virginia News. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke