California Governor Gavin Newsom has selected EMILY’S List President Laphonza Butler to fill the Senate seat left vacant following the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the governor confirmed on Sunday.
“I’m proud to announce California’s new United States Senator — Laphonza Butler,” Newsom said in a statement. “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.”
“I have no doubt she will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington,” he added.
Newsom previously vowed on MSNBC to fill any Senate vacancy with a Black woman.
“If in fact, Dianne Feinstein were to retire, would you nominate an African American woman to restore the seat [since] Kamala Harris is no longer in the United States Senate?” Joy Reid asked. “And do you have a name in mind?”
Newsom replied: “We have multiple names in mind and the answer is yes.”
Butler will become the third Black woman to ever serve in the Senate, as well as the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California.
Politico first reported Newsom’s choice of Butler.
Butler has led EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women, since 2021, the first Black woman to lead the organization.
The earliest Butler could be sworn in is Tuesday when the Senate returns to session.
Feinstein was first elected to the Senate in 1992 but her later years were marked by health concerns. She missed votes in late February and missed nearly three months of work due to having shingles.
The California Democrat was a major vocal advocate of gun control measures as she supported the assault weapons ban that then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994. Since then, she has been vocal about stricter gun laws in the recent string of mass shootings.