The office of Governor Gavin Newsom announced late on Sunday that he has picked a woman to replace the late Senator Dianne Feinstein. She will be the first openly LGBT senator from California and the first Black lesbian to serve in Congress.
After Feinstein’s death on Friday at the age of 90, her successor, Laphonza Butler, was chosen to serve the remainder of her tenure in the United States Senate.
Butler leads the Democratic women’s campaign organization Emily’s List as its president. Newsom’s office indicated she would resign once she was named senator. She was a prominent labor leader and trusted Vice President Kamala Harris’s advisor for many years.
Newsom stated of Butler, “Laphonza Butler embodies the best of California. She advocates for women and girls, is a second-generation warrior for working people, and is a trusted counselor to Vice President Harris.”
Newsom claims that, like Feinstein, Butler will fight for reproductive rights, equal protection under the law, and reducing gun violence.
According to the governor’s office, she comes from a working-class background and lost her father when she was a teenager. Her mother took on the role of sole breadwinner, supporting the Butler family through her job as a teacher’s aide, a home health aide, a security guard, and a bookkeeper.
Butler has also been the point person in charge of strategy for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Harris. She also led the largest union in California, the Service Employees International Union Local 2015.
Butler previously served as the head of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Los Angeles. She joined the UC Board of Regents in 2018 after being chosen by former governor Jerry Brown and will remain there until 2021.
President Barack Obama also recognized Butler as a “Champion of Change.”
She lives in Jackson with her wife, Neneki, and their daughter Nylah.