California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected Emily’s List chair Labonza Butler to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the governor’s office confirmed to NBC News.
She is the third black woman to serve in the Senate, as well as the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California. Politics First, Newsome chose Butler.
Feinstein, Senate’s longest-serving woman, dies Jupiter at the age of 90.
In California, the governor has the power to appoint a senator to serve until the next regularly scheduled statewide general election. That means Butler will serve until the next senator elected by voters in the November 2024 election.
Butler has led Emily’s List of Democratic Women Elects since 2021, when she became the first black woman to lead the organization. On Friday, he paid tribute to Feinstein on social media, calling her “A Titan in the Senate” and “a legendary figure for women in politics and across the country.”
Butler’s Professional life Rooted in California, where he led SEIU Local 2015, the state’s largest union. He has been a longtime ally of Vice President Kamala Harris, a member of the University of California Board of Regents, and director of public policy and campaigns in North America for Airbnb.
Butler currently lives in Maryland, but he owns a home in California and will change his voter registration, the governor’s office said.
Newsom, a Democrat, has offered substantial clues in recent months about how she would choose Feinstein’s replacement if she were to become vacant.
He had said He would nominate a black woman if any of California’s Senate seats opened up. He told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” last month that he “didn’t want to do another meeting,” knowing it was his “responsibility.”
Newsom said her choice would be an “interim” appointment and that she would not appoint any of the candidates running after Feinstein in 2024. They include representatives Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff and Katie Porter.
Newsom said picking on any of them would be “absolutely unfair” to candidates who “worked their tails off” on their campaigns.
However, Butler will have no restrictions on his plans and will be free to take the position if he chooses. A spokesperson for Emily’s List did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is not yet clear when he will take office; This could happen when the Senate goes back into session on Tuesday afternoon.
Porter praised Butler’s accomplishments — and her history-making status — in a statement to NBC News, saying she has “spent her life working for women and working families.”
“I look forward to fighting for California with her,” Porter added.
Lee posted on social media site X that he congratulates Butler and is looking forward to it.Work closely“With her.
“I am singularly focused on winning my campaign for the Senate,” he added. “CA deserves an experienced senator who will deliver on progressive priorities.”
There was the Congressional Black Caucus emphasized In appointing Lee, Newsom said, “She is the only person with the courage, vision and track record to end poverty, confront the fossil fuel industry, protect our democracy, and tirelessly advance a progressive agenda.”
Newsom previously appointed then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the Senate seat vacated after Harris was elected vice president; The latest appointment means he will have elected both senators in the state.
Besides Harris and now Butler, Carol Moseley Brown of Illinois is the only other black female senator.
Voters in the state will go to the polls in the Senate primary on March 5. California uses a blanket primary, meaning all candidates from all parties appear on the same primary ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election in November, regardless of their political parties.
Feinstein, the Senate’s oldest member, longest-serving female senator and longest-serving senator from California, announced in February that she plans to retire at the end of her term in 2024. up to
But he has faced repeated calls to resign over concerns about his health. After Feinstein failed to vote in February, her spokesman said a few days later that “the senator is in California this week dealing with a health matter” and “hopes to return to Washington soon.”
Feinstein has faced pressure in recent years to step down to make way for younger lawmakers. In April 2022, he was pushed back A news report In the San Francisco Chronicle, several anonymous colleagues expressed concern that she was mentally unfit to serve. “I’m committed to doing what I said when I was re-elected in 2018: fight for Californians,” he said.