Late Sunday evening, Gavin Newsom confirmed that Laphonza Butler will replace Dinae Feinstein in the U.S. Senate.
Who is Laphonza Butler?
Butler is president of EMILY’s List, an organization that “recruit(s), train(s), and support(s) Democratic pro-choice women running for office up and down the ballot.”
During the brief two-day vacancy, rumors had circulated that Oprah Winfrey or even Meghan Markle were contenders for the position, but neither of them score higher than Butler on the hierarchy of oppression chart. One could argue the wealth of those women negates any race card that may be played.
Butler is also the first openly LGBTQ+ lawmaker to represent the Golden State in the upper chamber, helping Newsom score more points among the intersectionality gang.
“She will make history – becoming the first Black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate,” Newsom tweeted on Monday morning.
Butler is a long-standing ally of Newsom and Vice President, Kamala Harris. She was an adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign and also worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The 44 or 45 year old (this seems unclear) Democrat born in Mississippi began her career as a union organizer for nurses, janitors, and eventually, in home care-givers, according to a publicity video posted on Newsom’s Twitter profile.
She also led the fight for the $15 minimum wage law in California as president of the state’s largest labor union, SEIU Local 2015.
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.”
Many Question Butler’s Residency
The “fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.” phrase is particularly interesting considering Butler lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Mention of Butler’s residence in Maryland was scrubbed from her biography on the EMILY’s List website. Archives of the site show it was still mentioned as recently as September 14, but now appears to have been deleted.
Izzy Gardon, deputy director of communications for Newsom’s office, defended the sudden change of address.
“Butler is a longtime California resident and homeowner,” Gardon told Newsweek. “She moved to the D.C. area when she became president of EMILY’s List. Butler will re-register here before being sworn in.”
Other Contenders for California’s Seat in 2024
Butler will finish out the remainder of Feinstein’s term in Washington, D.C., ahead of the 2024 election and may cause some upheaval in the upcoming U.S. Senate elections for California. Other hopefuls including Representatives Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee, have already announced campaigns for the seat upon Feinstein’s announcement she would step down prior to her death.
Many have criticized Newsom for not replacing Feinstein with Lee, long thought of as a favorite by the Democratic Party in California.
Fred Jordan, chairman of the board of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, called Newsom’s appointment of Butler “disingenuous” and said on Sunday that the Governor “has not fulfilled his promise.” He wanted Newsom to appoint Lee, who he called “the most qualified” person he could have tapped.
If Newsom does end up on the 2024 presidential ballot, Jordan believes this latest political appointment will cost him.
“It’s going to hurt him,” Fred Jordan, chairman of the board of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, said Sunday. “Those women in South Carolina that gave Joe Biden the bump, they’re gonna be outraged.”
Just another day in the volatile political soap opera, “As California Turns.”
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter. She writes from a conservative perspective.