Monday, December 11, 2023

Butler sworn in to succeed late California Senator Feinstein, third black female senator in US history

WASHINGTON — Former union leader and Democratic insider Laphonza Butler was sworn in as the newest member of the Senate on Tuesday, replacing California Sen. Dianne Feinstein after her death and became only the third Black female senator in history.

Butler was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, just two days after Feinstein died at her home in Washington. Butler is a longtime fundraiser and strategist in the state’s Democratic circles and is the head of Emily’s List, a national organization that raises money for women’s candidates who support abortion rights.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Butler was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, who served as the second black female senator until she resigned in 2021 to join President Joe Biden in the White House. The first is Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, who served one term in the 1990s.

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The Congressional Black Caucus also held a ceremonial swearing in for Butler. “Her background and years of experience will bring a much-needed perspective to the Senate, which currently does not have any Black women,” CBC Chairman Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said in a statement after she was appointed.

Butler is also the first openly LGBTQ+ senator from California.

Although he has never held elective office, Newsom praised his “deep knowledge” of the legislative process and said he is the kind of candidate he would build “if I had to literally design from my imagination.”

“He’s the only option,” Newsom added.

Butler is well known within the Democratic party apparatus in California. His credentials include working for nearly two years at a consulting firm closely tied to Newsom and founded by his top political lieutenants. He also served as a senior adviser to Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign.

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