California Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed Laphonza Butler, the head of EMILY’s List, a pro-abortion fundraising organization, to serve out the remainder of the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s term.
“As we mourn the enormous loss of Sen. Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault,” he said. “Laphonza will carry the baton left by Sen. Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings and fight for all Californians in Washington, D.C.”
Butler, a former aide to Vice President Kamala Harris, previously served as a director of public policy for Airbnb and spent nearly 20 years at the helm of the Service Employees International Union. On Friday, Butler mourned Feinstein’s passing on X.
“I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Sen. @DianneFeinstein,” she tweeted. “Not only was she a titan in the Senate, but a legendary figure for women in politics and around the country. Her legacy and achievements will not be forgotten. My prayers are with her family. She will be deeply missed.”
Newsom had pledged to nominate a black woman if the opportunity arose to replace the ailing Feinstein. “I have multiple names in mind,” he told MSNBC anchor Joy Reid in March 2021 when she asked him if he would appoint a black woman. “We have multiple names in mind — and the answer is yes.”
The governor stuck by his comments during an interview last month on “Meet the Press,” which drew the condemnation of Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a candidate who already announced her intention to challenge for Feinstein’s seat in 2024.
“The perspective of black women in the U.S. Senate is sorely needed — and needed for more than a few months,” she said. “Gov. Newsom knows this, which is why he made the pledge in the first place.”
It’s unclear whether Butler will enter the 2024 race to keep the Senate seat.
–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice