The seat of the recently deceased Dianne Feinstein in the Senate already has been filled. Gavin Newsom announced early this Monday that Feinstein's replacement will be Laphonza Butler, who fills a litany of progressive quotas as a black woman and prominent member of the LGBT community:
I'm proud to announce California's new United States Senator -- Laphonza Butler.
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.… pic.twitter.com/SOnbfVPmXj
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) October 2, 2023
Butler thus becomes the third black woman to hold a seat in the Senate (Carol Moseley Braun, appointed senator from Illinois in 1993; and Kamala Harris, who held a seat in the Senate representing California between 2017 and 2021). She is also the first gay black woman to occupy a senate seat in the history of the United States, a fact that Newsom highlighted when announcing her recent appointment.
The new senator is also the leader of EMILYs list, an American political action committee "dedicated electing Democratic pro-choice women to office." Additionally, she served as an adviser to current Vice President Kamala Harris during her presidential candidacy in 2020.
Controversy surrounding the appointment of Laphonza Butler
Butler was not the choice that many political experts predicted. In fact, four other candidates were seen as the favorites: Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass; Shirley Webber; Holly Mitchell, and the top candidate for African Americans, Malia Cohen.
Cohen appeared to have the best chance, as both Bass and Mitchell did not seem interested in the position. Webber's age (75) was seen as an impediment, as she would have been yet another addition to one of the oldest Congresses in history, a problem that has more and more Americans are expressing concern regarding both the Senate and the House of Representatives.