California Governor Gavin Newsom’s will was carried out on Tuesday. Laphonza Butler, the former EMILY’s List president and labor leader was sworn into office as the United States senator for California despite protests and detractors about her Maryland residency and fitness to serve in office. Newsom will be filling the seat left vacant after the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein on Friday.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) October 3, 2023
Laphonza Butler, the newest Senator of California, was sworn into office on Tuesday. She fills the seat left vacant by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein only five days after she died.
Butler is unique in the Senate. She is the only Black woman, the third openly LGBT member, and one of the youngest. She is 44 years old, making her the fifth youngest member in a Senate where the average age prior to Butler’s entry was 64.
In her capacity as Senate president, Vice President Kamala Harris swore Butler in, a long-time ally. Butler took her oath on the personal bible of her wife Neneki, who was holding it.
Butler and Lee shared a joke before Harris entered the room. Lee then placed a Senate badge on Butler’s gray jacket. Butler’s mother sat at the end aisle of the old Senate Chamber, draped with its red carpet, curtains, and gilded edge, to watch her daughter being sworn in.
Butler was flanked as she took the oath of office by Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, and another Newsom appointment, Senator Alex Padilla.
Today, @LaphonzaB made history as she was sworn into the United States Senate.
Senator Butler has never backed down from a tough fight on behalf of working people. I’m honored to serve alongside my friend and champion for Californians. pic.twitter.com/QCwvteFroq
— Senator Alex Padilla (@SenAlexPadilla) October 3, 2023
Both the pro-abortion lobby and LGBTQ leaders celebrated Butler’s swearing-in.
Her appointment was also celebrated by abortion and LGBTQ rights activists. Tony Hoang said, in a statement to X, that the appointment of Governor Newsom would give the LGBTQ+ community a voice in Congress, at a time when our freedoms and rights are being attacked across the nation. Jodi Hickey, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California stated in a press release that Butler has “been a national leader for reproductive freedom.”
California will have to hold a special election in order to choose the candidate who will fill the remaining term of Dianne Feinstein, and also the candidate who will assume the Senate seat for a second six-year term.
Butler will continue to serve in the Senate through the end of the current term (which runs until 2024). Due to the timing of Feinstein’s death, the special election in the last month of the current term is likely to be combined with California’s general and primary elections next year. In 2024, voters will have two Senate elections: one special election to determine the person who will serve out the rest of the current six-year term beginning Jan. 3, 2020, and another regular election.