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New butler replaces late Senator Feinstein in California

Laphonza Butler, a former union leader and Democratic insider, was sworn in as California’s newest Senator on Tuesday, succeeding the late Senator Dianne Feinstein. She becomes just the third Black female senator in history.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Butler to the position two days after Feinstein’s passing. Butler has a long history in Democratic fundraising and strategy and previously led Emily’s List, a national organization supporting women candidates who advocate for abortion rights.Vice President Kamala Harris, right, swears in Laphonza Butler, left, to the Senate to succeed the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, during a re-enactment of the swearing-in ceremony, Oct. 3, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Vice-President Kamala Harris, the former second Black female senator, administered the oath of office to Butler on the Senate floor. The first Black female senator was Democratic Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, who served one term in the 1990s.

The Congressional Black Caucus also held a ceremonial swearing-in for Butler, recognizing the significance of her presence in the Senate as it currently lacks any Black women. Additionally, Butler is California’s first openly LGBTQ+ senator.

Despite not holding prior elective office, Butler’s deep legislative knowledge and extensive experience made her the natural choice for Governor Newsom. He praised her as the ideal candidate, emphasizing her qualifications and expertise.

Within California’s Democratic party, Butler is well-regarded, having worked closely with a consulting firm associated with Newsom and served as a senior adviser to Kamala Harris during her 2020 presidential campaign.

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