Laphonza Butler
Laphonza Butler. Photo courtesy of EMILY’s List

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday appointed Democratic political strategist Laphonza Butler to serve the remainder of the late Dianne Feinstein’s term in the U.S. Senate.

Butler is the president of EMILY’s List, a political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic pro-choice women to office. She is a former labor leader and adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I’m proud to announce California’s new United States Senator — Laphonza Butler,” said Newsom in a post on X Sunday night. “Laphonza has spent her entire career fighting for women and girls and has been a fierce advocate for working people. She will make history — becoming the first Black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate.”

“I have no doubt she will carry the baton left by Sen. Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington,” Newsom said.

Feinstein, the longest serving woman in the Senate, died Thursday at the age of 90.

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

However, three other California Democrats are already campaigning for election to Feinstein’s seat in 2020 — Congress members Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff.

Butler’s appointment comes as the Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, including three independents who vote with them, and amid uncertainty about the future of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who has been indicted on corruption charges.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.