(Fox News) California Gov. Gavin Newsom named Democratic strategist Laphonza Butler as Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s replacement in the U.S. Senate after the longtime Democrat senator died last week at the age of 90, Fox News confirmed late Sunday night.
Butler will finish out the remainder of Feinstein’s term in Washington, D.C., ahead of the 2024 election. In a statement, the governor described Butler as an “advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris.”
“As we mourn 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,” Newsom added. “Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.”
Butler, president of EMILY’s List and a former adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, will be the only Black woman serving in the U.S. Senate and the first openly LGBTQ+ lawmaker to represent the Golden State in the Upper Chamber.
EMILY’s List is a political organization that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion access. Butler’s EMILY’s List biography had listed her residence as Silver Spring, Maryland, earlier Sunday evening, but it was removed from the profile shortly after it was announced she would be appointed to the position. An FEC filing from Aug. 31 also showed a Maryland address.
Newsom previously vowed to place a Black woman in any Senate seat that became vacant – a promise that was criticized by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who said the Democrat governor’s pledge was “insulting” to Black women since the appointment would be temporary ahead of the primary.
“The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election,” Lee, who is already running for Feinstein’s seat, previously said in a statement.
Newsom has said he would not choose someone already running for the seat because he wants to avoid giving a candidate an unfair edge in the election, which will be held in 2024. Democratic U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, both of whom represent California in Congress, have also launched campaigns to replace Feinstein.