Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, served in Congress for a span of thirty years. Regrettably, California’s senior senator, aged 90, passed away on September 29 in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. Surprisingly, within just a week of her passing, a successor has already assumed her Senate position.
Well in advance of Feinstein’s demise, Governor Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, had expressed his intention to appoint a black woman to the position if she were to vacate her office prior to the end of her term. This declaration had previously drawn accusations of virtue signaling. Such criticism persisted after Newsom selected Laphonza Butler to step into the late senator’s role. The governor spoke with great enthusiasm about her when he made the announcement of her appointment.
I’m proud to announce California’s new United States Senator — Laphonza Butler.
As we mourn the enormous loss of Sen. Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault.… pic.twitter.com/SOnbfVPmXj
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) October 2, 2023
It seems that the governor fulfilled all the criteria set by the Democratic Party when he selected her. She belongs to a minority group and championed abortion rights during her tenure as the president of the pro-choice political action committee EMILYs List. Additionally, she is a member of the LGBTQ community. Governor Newsom proudly highlighted that Butler is the first openly black lesbian to serve in the United States Senate. On October 3rd, Vice President Kamala Harris administered the oath of office to Butler during a ceremony held at the US Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, asserted that Senator Feinstein would be watching from above with a sense of satisfaction, knowing that her seat is now in capable hands.
Welcome Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA) to the United States Senate. pic.twitter.com/uOwQ7mS41K
— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) October 3, 2023
Butler’s appointment to the Senate coincides with an ongoing campaign for the same seat. Representatives Katie Porter, Adam Schiff, and Barbara Lee, all Democrats from California, currently lead the race to secure the seat on a permanent basis. If Butler decides to enter the race herself, it has the potential to significantly alter the dynamics of the competition.
On October 2, California Representative John Garamendi, a Democrat, had a conversation with CNN in which he expressed his view that Butler should refrain from entering the race. He pointed out that the other Democratic candidates have been actively campaigning for nearly a year. It’s worth noting that the new senator has not given any indication that she intends to join the race.