Gov. Newsom Names Laphonza Butler as Feinstein Replacement

Gov. Newsom Names Laphonza Butler as Feinstein Replacement

California Governor Gavin Newsom will reportedly appoint Laphonza Butler, President of EMILY’s List, to succeed the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, according to an individual with knowledge on the matter. EMILY’s List is renowned for its fundraising efforts and its dedication to electing Democratic women who advocate for abortion rights. This selection is occurring amid a momentous shift in California’s political landscape, with Feinstein’s demise still being mourned by millions and Newsom confronting the political implications of his selection decision.


Gov. Newsom quick to appoint Laphonza Butler

The formal announcement was anticipated on Monday, and Anthony York, an adviser to the governor, conveyed to POLITICO that Newsom’s appointment comes without stipulating restrictions or preconditions about Butler contesting for the seat in 2024. This implies that Butler has the discretion to compete in the forthcoming and highly competitive elections to succeed Feinstein. Butler is poised to be inaugurated into the U.S. Senate on Wednesday by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Newsom had made a commitment to appointing a Black woman, thus fulfilling a pledge made after Harris ascended to the vice presidency and Sen. Alex Padilla was appointed in 2021 to her previous position. This move circumvents direct involvement in the upcoming Senate race between Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff, and Barbara Lee. Butler’s appointment is crucial for the closely contested Senate, especially as Senate Democrats are relying on every available vote.

Butler, a veteran organizer and a native of Southern Mississippi, has close connections with Newsom and is considered a confidant of Vice President Harris. She has held prominent positions at Airbnb and SEIU California and has a background in public policy, campaigns, and labor leadership. Notably, she is the first openly LGBTQ individual representing California in the Senate.

If she chooses to run she could be a formidable candidate

Moreover, it’s expected to be a significant challenge for Butler to secure the seat, given the financial implications and the well-established contenders. However, she could emerge as a formidable candidate if she opts to run. Newsom’s decision will indubitably continue to revolutionize California’s political structure, marking his fourth high-profile nomination. This change is consequential, as several senators, such as Tina Smith, Brian Schatz, and Tim Scott, have ascended through appointments.

Newsom’s selection was expedited due to urgent calls from influential figures like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, emphasizing the importance of a swift appointment in the face of potential governmental shutdowns and the slender Democratic majority in the Senate. The necessity for a speedy appointment was highlighted due to the delicate balance in the Senate and crucial pending legislations.

The appointment, coupled with Feinstein’s health complications, had been a subject of contemplation for months among Newsom and his top advisers. Newsom’s relentless support for Feinstein serving her full term underscored concerns regarding potential disruptions by Senate Republicans in judicial confirmations, emphasized by the extensive Democratic deliberations around her vacancy.


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