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Newsom Names Laphonza Butler as Sen. Feinstein Replacement

Newsom Names Laphonza Butler as Sen. Feinstein Replacement

Emily's List President Laphonza Butler address a Biden–Harris campaign rally on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which returned regulation of abortion to state governments, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on June 23, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Stephen Katte

Stephen Katte

10/1/2023

Updated: 10/2/2023

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected Democratic Party political strategist Laphonza Butler to fill the seat of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the governor’s office confirmed.
Ms. Feinstein, who was the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate, died at the age of 90 last week at her home in Washington following months of poor health.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is assisted in a wheelchair by staff as she returns to the Senate after a months-long absence, at the Capitol on May 10, 2023. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is assisted in a wheelchair by staff as she returns to the Senate after a months-long absence, at the Capitol on May 10, 2023. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office at San Francisco City Hall after she was elected the city's mayor, circa 1978. (Nick Allen/Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office at San Francisco City Hall after she was elected the city's mayor, circa 1978. (Nick Allen/Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

She had announced in February her intention to retire on Jan. 3, 2025, at the end of her current term. She would have been approaching 92 by the time she retired.
In a Sept. 29 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Ms. Butler paid tribute to her predecessor, calling her a “Titan” and a “legendary figure for women in politics.”
“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she'll represent us proudly in the United States Senate,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.
“Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C,” he added.
Voters will decide on Ms. Feinstein’s official replacement in the November 2024 election.
Mr. Newsom made public promises to appoint a woman of color if either of California’s Senate seats opened up, dating back to at least 2021, when he told MSNBC host Joy Reid in an appearance on her show that he had multiple people in mind.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks onstage during the Clinton Global Initiative September 2023 Meeting at New York Hilton Midtown in New York City on Sept. 18, 2023. (Noam Galai/Getty Images for Clinton Global Initiative)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks onstage during the Clinton Global Initiative September 2023 Meeting at New York Hilton Midtown in New York City on Sept. 18, 2023. (Noam Galai/Getty Images for Clinton Global Initiative)

He faced backlash in 2021 after choosing longtime ally Alex Padilla, who was serving as California secretary of state at the time, to replace Kamala Harris after she was elected as vice president.
On Sept. 10, Mr. Newsom appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and said he would stick by his earlier pledge to fill the seat with a temporary appointment. In California, a governor can appoint a senator to serve until the state’s next scheduled general election.
In the past, other senators have risen to power through similar appointments, including Democrat Tina Smith of Minnesota and Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Ms. Butler, a prominent fixture in California politics for more than 10 years, previously spent nearly two decades as a labor leader with the state’s largest union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 2015).
Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU ULTCW, the United Long Term Care Workers’ Union, far left, joins workers demanding that the Los Angeles City Council vote to raise the minimum wage on May 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes )

Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU ULTCW, the United Long Term Care Workers’ Union, far left, joins workers demanding that the Los Angeles City Council vote to raise the minimum wage on May 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes )

In the past, she was named a “Champion for Change” by former President Barack Obama.
She was also an adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris before taking the top job at Emily’s List in 2021, a national organization created to help women win political office.
Emily’s List was founded in 1985 by IBM heiress Ellen Malcolm. Ms. Butler is the first woman of color to lead that organization.
With her selection to the Senate, Ms. Butler will reportedly step down from her role as president of Emily’s List.
Update: This article has been updated to include comment from Mr. Newsom’s office.
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Stephen Katte

Stephen Katte

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Stephen Katte is a freelance journalist at The Epoch Times. Follow him on X @SteveKatte1

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