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Emily's List President Laphonza Butler

Newsom to appoint Laphonza Butler to fill Feinstein’s Senate seat

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is appointing Laphonza Butler to the Senate to fill the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat.

Butler, a longtime Democratic activist, currently serves as the president of EMILY’s List, an organization that boosts pro-abortion rights Democratic women in elections. Newsom’s choice was first reported by Politico.

On Sunday, we scooped that Newsom’s appointee will be free to run for a full Senate term in 2024 and that there will be no precondition that this is simply a temporary replacement.

So if Butler decides to run for a full term, that would have an immediate impact on the 2024 race. Butler will have the advantage of incumbency. Currently, Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter are among those running for the seat.

Newsom had previously suggested he’d only appoint someone who didn’t want to run for a full Senate term in 2024 because this could interfere in the state’s ongoing primary process. Before that, Newsom said he would appoint a Black woman.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) was pushing Newsom to appoint Lee, a longtime House member.

Senate Democratic leaders expect that Butler will be sworn in by the middle of this week, preserving Democrats’ 51-seat majority in the chamber. The Senate is returning to session tomorrow evening and is expected to vote this week on nominees for the federal bench and the State Department.

Feinstein, who died at age 90 last week at her Washington home, will lie in state at San Francisco City Hall on Wednesday. Her funeral will be held on Thursday.

— Andrew Desiderio and Jake Sherman

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