Governor Gavin Newsom has chosen Laphonza Butler, a Democratic strategist known for her role in the labor movement, to assume the Senate seat previously held by the late Dianne Feinstein, who passed away at the age of 90 last Friday. With this selection, Butler, a lesbian, becomes the first out person of color to serve in the Senate and the first LGBTQ+ senator from California.
This selection aligns with the governor’s commitment to appoint a Black woman to the position, despite calls from some quarters to consider Rep. Barbara Lee, a prominent Black congresswoman from Oakland who is a contender in the 2024 election for the same seat.
At 44 years old, Butler currently serves as the president of Emily’s List, a national political organization dedicated to promoting Democratic women who champion abortion access. She boasts a wealth of experience in Democratic politics, having previously held the presidency of a potent labor union and acted as an advisor to Kamala Harris during her 2020 presidential campaign.
Furthermore, Butler maintains close ties with Governor Newsom’s longstanding political circle. Prior to her tenure at Emily’s List, she worked as a partner at Bearstar Strategies, a political consulting firm currently operated by the governor’s seasoned strategists Ace Smith, Sean Clegg, and Juan Rodriguez.
“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,” Newsom said in a statement.
“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.”