California Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint Laphonza Butler, EMILY’s list president, to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant following the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein last Thursday, a spokesman for the governor said Sunday.
The selection means Newsom will make good on his earlier promise to select a Black woman to fill Feinstein’s seat if it becomes vacant.
Butler would be the only black woman in the U.S. Senate.
Butler, who runs a political organization that supports candidates who support abortion rights, is also a former adviser to Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.
She was a union leader at SEIU in 2015, a powerful union that also represents more than 400,000 nurses in California — although she has never held elected office.
She would be the first openly LGBTQ person from the Golden State to represent California in the chamber.
Newsom faced increasing pressure from activists and Black lawmakers to choose Rep. Barbara Lee for the seat.
The well-known Black congresswoman is already battling others like Rep. Katie Porter and Rep. Adam Schiff for the seat.
Another name mentioned as a potential candidate for the seat – although the chances of her being appointed were slim – was Meghan Markle.
Just minutes after Feinstein’s death, phones were “lighting up” with speculation that the Duchess of Sussex might take over the post until Feinstein’s term expires in January 2025, sources told the Daily Mail.
Newsom previously said he did not want to appoint anyone to run for office in 2024 because it would give him an unfair advantage in the closely contested race.
However, a spokesman for Newsom said the governor had not asked Butler to commit to staying out of the race.
Candidates must submit paperwork to run for the seat by Dec. 8.
Butler called Feinstein “a legendary figure for women in politics and across the country” after her death at age 90.
Feinstein was elected to the Senate in 1992, although she has recently been under pressure to resign due to a series of health problems.
Before her death, Feinstein said she would not run for re-election next year.
Previously, Newsom selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla for the Senate seat after Kamala Harris was elected vice president alongside President Biden in 2020.
With post wires