search
Sections List
American Journal News

California governor names Emily's List president Laphonza Butler to Feinstein Senate seat

In choosing Butler on Sunday, Newsom fulfilled his pledge to appoint a Black woman if Feinstein’s seat became open.

By Associated Press - October 02, 2023
Share
Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY's List, listens during a rally held by the Latino Victory Fund, Oct. 20, 2022, in Coral Gables, Fla.
Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY's List, listens during a rally held by the Latino Victory Fund, Oct. 20, 2022, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected Laphonza Butler, a Democratic strategist and adviser to Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign, to fill the U.S. Senate seat made vacant by the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

However, he had been facing pressure from some Black politicians and advocacy groups to select Barbara Lee, a prominent Black congresswoman who is already running for the seat.

Butler will be the only Black woman serving in the U.S. Senate and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to represent California in the chamber.

Newsom said in a statement that the priorities Feinstein fought for in Congress — reproductive freedom, equal protection and safety from gun violence — were under assault in the nation. “Laphonza will carry the baton left by Sen. Feinstein (and) continue to break glass ceilings and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.,” he said.

Butler leads Emily’s List, a political organization that supports Democratic women candidates who favor abortion rights. She also is a former labor leader with SEIU 2015, a powerful force in California politics.

Her appointment sets up a potentially tricky political calculus in the crowded 2024 contest to succeed Feinstein, which has been underway since the beginning of the year.

Newsom spokesman Anthony York said the governor did not ask Butler to commit to staying out of the race. The deadline for candidates to submit paperwork to seek the office is Dec. 8. Should Butler enter the contest, she could set up a competition for the relatively small but influential group of Black voters in California and possibly undercut Lee’s chances.

Emily’s List is known as a fundraising powerhouse, and raising huge sums of campaign cash is a must in any statewide California race. Newsom’s statement said she will step down from the organization.

The decision carried the threat of political fallout for Newsom, who is seen as a potential future national candidate. The candidate favored by Black voters has won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination every cycle since 1992. The Congressional Black Caucus was among the groups and Black politicians that had urged Newsom to appoint Lee, calling her the best qualified choice for the post.

The long-serving Feinstein died Thursday at age 90 after a series of illnesses.

Butler currently lives in Maryland, according to her Emily’s List biography. Izzy Gardon, a spokesman for Newsom, said Butler owns a home in California. She is expected to reregister to vote in California before being sworn in. That could happen as early as Tuesday evening when the Senate returns to session.

Butler did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment nor release a statement.

Democrats control the Senate 51-49, though Feinstein’s seat is vacant. A quick appointment by Newsom will give the Democratic caucus more wiggle room on close votes, including nominations that Republicans uniformly oppose.

Feinstein, the oldest member of Congress and the longest-serving woman in the Senate, said in February she would not seek reelection in 2024. Lee is one of several prominent Democrats competing for the seat, including Democratic U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff. Newsom said he did not want to appoint any of the candidates because it would give them an unfair advantage in the race.

Butler has never held elected office but has a long track record in California politics. She served as a senior adviser to Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign while working at a political firm filled with strategists who have worked for Newsom and many other prominent state Democrats. She also briefly worked in the private sector for Airbnb.

She called Feinstein “a legendary figure for women in politics and around the country,” in a statement posted after Feinstein’s death.

Emily’s List, the group Butler leads, focuses on electing Democratic women who support abortion rights. With the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion, the issue has become a galvanizing one for many Democrats.

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, said the appointment “will give our … community another voice in Congress at a time when our rights and freedoms are under attack across the country.”

It’s not Newsom’s first time selecting a U.S. senator, after being tasked with choosing a replacement for Kamala Harris when she was elected vice president; at that time he selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla for the post. It was one of a string of appointments Newsom made in late 2020 and early 2021, a power that gave him kingmaker status among the state’s ambitious Democrats.

The seat is expected to stay in Democratic hands in the 2024 election. Democrats in the liberal-leaning state have not lost a statewide election since 2006, and the party holds a nearly 2-to-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans.


Read More
Whitmer creates task force aiming to prevent gun violence in Michigan

Whitmer creates task force aiming to prevent gun violence in Michigan

By Jon King, Michigan Advance - June 20, 2024
Lt. Gov. Robinson touts end of DEI as LGBTQ+ advocates seek protections, equity

Lt. Gov. Robinson touts end of DEI as LGBTQ+ advocates seek protections, equity

By Ahmed Jallow, NC Newsline - June 13, 2024
‘We need something that works’: Activists call for more resources for gun violence prevention

‘We need something that works’: Activists call for more resources for gun violence prevention

By Lucy Valeski, Michigan Advance - June 07, 2024
‘Democracy begins with each of us,’ Biden says at site of D-Day invasion in Normandy

‘Democracy begins with each of us,’ Biden says at site of D-Day invasion in Normandy

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - June 07, 2024
Nessel, House LGBTQ+ Caucus warn that Trump and GOP endanger hard-fought rights 

Nessel, House LGBTQ+ Caucus warn that Trump and GOP endanger hard-fought rights 

By Jon King, Michigan Advance - June 06, 2024
Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

By Jesse Valentine - June 06, 2024
AJ News
Latest
Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

By Jesse Valentine - June 11, 2024
Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

By Jesse Valentine - June 10, 2024
Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

By Jesse Valentine - June 06, 2024
Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

By Jesse Valentine - May 24, 2024
What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

By Chabeli Carrazana and Shefali Luthra - May 22, 2024
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - May 21, 2024
House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

By Jesse Valentine - May 14, 2024
Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

By Jesse Valentine - May 09, 2024
Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

By Jesse Valentine - May 07, 2024
Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

By Jesse Valentine - April 30, 2024
Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - April 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Whitmer creates task force aiming to prevent gun violence in Michigan

Whitmer creates task force aiming to prevent gun violence in Michigan

By Jon King, Michigan Advance - June 20, 2024
Emergency care for pregnant women at stake in Supreme Court case, Missouri doctor warns

Emergency care for pregnant women at stake in Supreme Court case, Missouri doctor warns

By Anna Spoerre, Missouri Independent - June 18, 2024
In Grand Rapids, DeVos declines to say whether she’ll endorse Trump

In Grand Rapids, DeVos declines to say whether she’ll endorse Trump

By Kyle Davidson, Michigan Advance - June 18, 2024
Michigan Republican Mike Rogers worked for organization that threatened privacy rights

Michigan Republican Mike Rogers worked for organization that threatened privacy rights

By Jesse Valentine - June 18, 2024
Nevada Republican Sam Brown has ties to extremist who compared abortion to slavery

Nevada Republican Sam Brown has ties to extremist who compared abortion to slavery

By Jesse Valentine - June 18, 2024
U.S. Supreme Court overturns ban on bump stocks used in Las Vegas mass shooting

U.S. Supreme Court overturns ban on bump stocks used in Las Vegas mass shooting

By Ariana Figueroa, Pennsylvania Capital Star - June 14, 2024