California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to the Senate after the death of longtime U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Butler will serve the remainder of Feinstein’s term, which runs through 2024 and gives her the opportunity to run for a full term in the next election cycle.
“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the United States Senate,” Governor Newsom said. “As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault. Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.”
A senior adviser to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during her 2020 presidential campaign, Butler will become the first Black and openly gay woman to serve in the Senate.
Former president of the Long Term Care Workers unit of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Butler helped represent more than 250,000 janitors, security officers, window cleaners, and food service workers across the country. She also served on the SEIU California council, giving way to union representation that Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass commended in a statement.
“Laphonza Butler is an incredibly capable leader who I know will serve with distinction in the U.S. Senate on behalf of California,” Bass said. “I first met Laphonza when she took the helm of SEIU Local 2015 and I watched as she worked to grow the union into the statewide force it is today. She has always been a fighter for the people and I look forward to working with her in this new capacity.”
Senator Feinstein died at 90 years old Thursday, Sept. 29, and served as a U.S. senator since 1992. Feinstein was also the oldest sitting member of Congress, a classification now belonging to Senator Chuck Grassley, 90, out of Iowa.
Newsom remembered Feinstein as a mentor and “trailblazer” for policy related to gun safety.
“… to me, she was a dear friend, a lifelong mentor, and a role model not only for me, but to my wife and daughters for what a powerful, effective leader looks like,” Newsom said after Feinstein’s passing. “Every race she won, she made history, but her story wasn’t just about being the first woman in a particular political office, it was what she did for California, and for America, with that power once she earned it. That’s what she should be remembered for.”
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