Laphonza Butler, a Democrat that Governor Gavin Newsom chose to assume the Senate seat previously held by the late Dianne Feinstein, said Thursday that she won’t seek a full Senate term next year. Butler, a lesbian, is the first out person of color to serve in the Senate and the first LGBTQ+ senator from California. She was sworn in earlier this month by VP Kamala Harris but has already decided that “Knowing you can win a campaign doesn’t always mean you should run a campaign,” Butler said in a statement.
“I’ve spent the past 16 days pursuing my clarity — what kind of life I want to have, what kind of service I want to offer and what kind of voice I want to bring forward. After considering those questions I’ve decided not to run for Senate in the upcoming election.”
According to The New York Times, Butler, 44, will finish the rest of Feinstein’s term, which ends in January 2025, with “every ounce of energy and effort that I have.”
Butler is also the president of EMILY’s List, a national political organization dedicated to promoting Democratic women who champion abortion access.
Governor Newsom said before that he told Butler that she could make her own decision about running for a full term, stating, “I have an incredible appointee and she’ll make a decision with no constraints, no expectations.”
“Her decision allows the governor to dodge a bullet and leaves California voters with three strong Democratic candidates. Her broad prior experience means that she will be an effective senator for the next 15 months,” Carl Tobias, the Williams Chair in Law at the University of Richmond School of Law, said in an email.
Butler said that her decision might come as “a surprise to many because traditionally we don’t see those who have power let it go. It may not be the decision people expected but it’s the right one for me.”