Newsom Has Made His Pick for Feinstein’s Replacement
  • 6 months ago
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Newsom Has Made His Pick for Feinstein’s Replacement.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler to fill the seat of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, elevating the head of a fundraising juggernaut that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Newsom is moving swiftly to name the next senator, two days after Feinstein’s death and just as a perilously split Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown. Senate Democrats are in need of every vote in the closely divided chamber.

The announcement was expected to come Monday, and an adviser to the governor, Anthony York, told POLITICO that Newsom is making his appointment without putting limitations or preconditions on his pick running for the seat in 2024. That means Butler could decide to join the sprawling and competitive field of Democratic contenders seeking to succeed Feinstein, with special elections now layered on top of the March primary and November runoff.

Butler is expected to be sworn-in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Newsom’s selection of Butler comes at a moment of immense change in California’s political establishment, with millions of people still mourning the death of Feinstein, the barrier-breaking Senate lioness. Meanwhile the California governor, who was mentored by Feinstein, has been grappling with his own personal grief and the political ramifications of his choice to succeed her.

The people who spoke with POLITICO ahead of the announcement were granted anonymity to disclose internal deliberations. Butler is registered to vote in Maryland but will switch her registration to California.

Newsom faced considerable pressure around the decision after first pledging to name a Black woman to the seat. Several potential nominees said publicly they were not interested. Some others privately expressed trepidation about accepting a short-term appointment and then having to immediately gear up for what would be a five-month campaign.

The swift nature of Newsom’s appointment cuts politicians and their allies off from mounting more sustained efforts to lobby the governor and his inner circle over his pick. And it halts interest groups that were starting to apply pressure on him, including over the question of whether he would require them to serve only temporarily. On Sunday, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford wrote to Newsom urging him to appoint Rep. Barbara Lee, a candidate for the Senate whom the governor recently ruled out over worries about giving someone a leg up.

Newsom fulfills the promise he made to name a Black woman to the upper chambe