California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Sunday night that he would appoint EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler to fill the seat of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“I’m proud to announce California’s new United States Senator—Laphonza Butler,” News said in a statement posted on social media. “Laphonza has spent her entire career fighting for women and girls and has been a fierce advocate for working people. She will make history—becoming the first Black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate.”
Feinstein passed away last week at the age of 90, a trailblazer and the oldest member of in the U.S. Senate.
Newsom, who had appointed then-state Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace then-Sen. Kamala Harris as she departed for the Vice Presidency, had publicly committed to choosing a Black woman should he get the chance to make another appointment.
EMILY’s List is a Political Action Committee (PAC) that describes itself as “the nation’s largest resource dedicated to electing Democratic pro-choice women to office.”
Prior to working for Emily’s List, Butler in 2018 was appointed as a University of California regent by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a post she held until 2021. She has also served on several advocacy boards, including the Bay Area Economic Council Institute think tank, and she’s a former director for the board of governors of the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve System.
Currently though, Butler’s primary residence in Maryland, which could suggest she’s only serving as a placeholder until next year’s election, where already three Democratic Reps.—Barbara Lee whom Newsom vetted before choosing Padilla, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff—have tossed in their hats for the party’s nomination for Feinstein’s seat, having done so after the late Senator had announced in February she was retiring at the end of her term.
On the other hand, numerous Senators have risen to prominence through an appointment, including Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) who’s running for the GOP nomination for President in 2024.
“From her time as President of EMILY’s List to leading the state’s largest labor union, [Butler] has always stood up for what is right and has led with her heart and her values,” Newsom said in his announcement. “I have no doubt she will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington”