Laphonza Butler, california senate

California Gov. Gavin Newsom Appoints Black Woman To Senate As Promised

The former senior strategist for Vice President Kamala Harris, Laphonza Butler, has been named as the replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who died Sept. 29, Politico reports.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is set to make the official announcement on Oct. 2–just three days after Feinstein’s death. Butler will be the third Black women ever to serve in the Senate and the first openly LGBTQ person to represent the Golden State.

Harris is scheduled to swear in Butler on Oct. 4.

Newsom has faced extreme pressure after openly promising to give the seat to a Black woman. Many candidates admitted to not being interested publicly, while others expressed interest in private.

A strong contender was Rep. Barbara Lee, recently ruled out by the governor, although she was highly supported by the Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford. The announcement helps Newsom avoid diving into next year’s Senate contest between Democratic rivals Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff, and Lee.

Butler is currently based in Washington, D.C., and is registered to vote in Maryland but will be switching to California promptly.

She was once considered for a job working as Newsom’s first chief of staff and once served as a partner at San Francisco-based consulting firm Bearstar Strategies. According to NBC News, Butler has led EMILY’s List, an organization that works to elect Democratic women, since 2021. After news of the veteran Feinstein’s death, Butler posted a tribute on Twitter, calling her a “titan in the Senate.”

Her fellow state colleagues have already begun cheering for Butler. “I look forward to fighting for California with her,” Porter said.

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