The former president of Emily’s List was sworn in on Tuesday, replacing Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died last week
Laphonza Butler was sworn into the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, becoming the first openly LGBTQ person of color to serve in the upper chamber of Congress.
The swearing-in comes days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom tapped Butler, the former president of the Democratic PAC Emily’s List, to fill the late Dianne Feinstein’s seat until the state can elect a replacement next year. Butler was sworn in on the Senate floor by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Although a prominent figure in California politics for more than a decade, Butler has never served in elected office. Her appointment does, however, fill two promises made by Newsom in response to concerns about Feinstein’s declining health, and her decision earlier this year to retire at the end of her term: that he would appoint a Black woman to an open seat, and that said appointment would not “tip the balance” of the California’s 2024 Senate race.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Butler genuinely has “no idea” if she’ll run to keep the seat in 2024. “I want to be focused on honoring the legacy of Sen. Feinstein. I want to devote my time and energy to serving the people of California. And I want to carry her baton with the honor that it deserves and so I genuinely have no idea,” she said.
Should Butler choose to throw her hat into the race, she would be running against three high-profile members of Congress who’ve already declared their candidacy and have been raising money for months: California Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff.
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