Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom of California didn’t waste any time appointing a replacement for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who passed away last week.
But, supporters of one Black lawmaker in the state are hoping that he’ll reverse his decision to name Laphonza Butler, the president of EMILY’s List, as Feinstein’s replacement.
Some allies of Representative Barbara Lee believe that Newsom’s choice of Butler sidelines the Black woman in California who’s best qualified for the job. In a letter they sent to Newsom Sunday, in an apparent last-ditch effort to get their person chosen, the Congressional Black Caucus commended him for his “courageous commitment to rectify the gross imbalance in representation in the higher chamber by appointing a Black woman to fill the seat, and want to voice our strong support for Congresswoman Barbara Lee for that appointment.”
The letter continued:
“She is the only person with the courage, the vision and the record to eradicate poverty, face down the fossil fuel industry, defend our democracy, and tirelessly advance the progressive agenda.”
Newsom has long committed to appointing a Black woman to replace Feinstein if she were in any way be unable to complete her term, saying as much back in March. Just last month, he then said that if he got that opportunity, he wouldn’t choose any of the people who have already announced they would be running to fill her seat in the 2024 election.
Because of that last requirement, Lee was eliminated from consideration. The decision seems to be Newsom’s way of ensuring he isn’t playing any favorites among the 2024 candidates – or at least not tipping his hate for who he might endorse just yet.
But, that has angered many of Lee’s supporters.
In a statement, the president and CEO of the Higher Heights PAC, Glynda C. Carr, said of Lee:
“She has what it takes to get to work on day one and will ensure we continue to build beyond this moment in our nation’s history and serve as a powerful advocate for the people of California.”
On Sunday, Anthony York, one of Newsom’s advisers, told Politico that the choice of Butler won’t come with any preconditions or limitations. This means that Butler could eventually decide to run for the full term on the Senate come 2024 as well.
Butler should be sworn into her spot on Wednesday, which will be done by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Newsom’s decision to move quickly to replace Feinstein eliminates the chance for any one candidate or their supporters to wage a campaign to be selected. It also removes one more thing from his docket, especially since he himself is mourning Feinstein’s loss. Newsom was brought up in politics under the tutelage of Feinstein, who became a giant in California politics.
Butler is very familiar to Newsom. In fact, he at one time contemplated hiring her to serve as his very first chief of staff. She also served as a partner at a consulting firm in San Francisco with some of his top advisers.