California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Laphonza Butler to fill the seat formerly held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) this week. Butler, an abortion activist, fulfills Newsom’s earlier pledge to appoint a Black woman to the open seat.
Butler is the president of the pro-abortion organization EMILYs List. She previously served as a labor leader for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Newsom was under particular pressure to appoint a Black woman to fill the seat, leading to speculation that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) could be appointed.
In his appointment, Newsom said that as the state mourns 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.,” the governor said.
Butler said that she was “honored to accept Gov. Newsom’s nomination to be a U.S. Senator for a state I have long called home.”
The incoming senator also complimented the late senator, calling Feinstein a “legendary figure for women in politics and around the country.”
The incoming senator had listed her address as Maryland both on social media and elsewhere on the internet. The last voter registration information available shows her as living in Maryland and that she was registered in Silver Spring last year.
The website of EMILYs List lists her as living “in Maryland” with her partner and daughter.
— Matthew Foldi (@MatthewFoldi) October 2, 2023
Information from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) also showed that Butler lived in Maryland in late August.
Butler has experience in Democratic circles, having served as an adviser to the 2020 presidential campaign of then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Newsom called Butler an “advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris.”
Butler will serve out the remainder of Feinstein’s term and could run for a full term in next year’s elections.