California Senate: Newsom Picks Laphonza Butler to Succeed Feinstein

Longtime Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein died Thursday at the age of 90. The trailblazing lawmaker was the longest serving woman in Senate history, and she boasted a 53-year career of public service that included a decade as mayor of San Francisco, an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, and then three decades as the Golden State’s senior senator.

Feinstein’s death narrows the Democratic majority in the Senate to a tenuous 50-49, and that’s including independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who doesn’t caucus with either party but still receives her committee assignments from (and usually votes with) the Democratic Party. And it deprives Democrats of a crucial vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee, through which all of President Joe Biden’s judicial appointees must pass.

But both of those are temporary issues for Senate Democrats, because California Gov. Gavin Newsom has the power to appoint a replacement to Feinstein’s seat to  serve until the election next year. 

Newsom chose Laphonza Butler, the president of major Democratic outside group EMILYs List, which recruits and promotes pro-choice women up and down the ballot. Butler currently lives in Maryland but worked for a decade as a labor leader and political consultant in California until 2021. Butler will be just the third Black woman to serve as a U.S. senator, which fulfills a pledge Newsom made back in 2021, and is the first LGBTQ Black senator in history.

Once Butler is sworn in later this week, Democrats will be…

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