Newsom Names Late Sen. Feinstein’s Far-Left Successor
In the wake of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) death on Thursday night, the Golden State’s Democratic governor has selected a far-left abortion activist to fill her seat in Washington, D.C. News broke Sunday night that Governor Gavin Newsom has picked Laphonza Butler to fill the late senator’s place in the U.S. Senate.
The Maryland-based Butler has a lengthy history of left-wing activism, including working as a union organizer, lobbying and campaigning for now-Vice President Kamala Harris, supporting LGBT agenda items, and running the pro-abortion political action committee EMILY’s List. According to Politico, Newsom has placed no restrictions or conditions on Butler’s appointment to the Senate, meaning she will be allowed to run in 2024 to retain the contentious seat full-time.
Quena Gonzalez, senior director of Government Affairs at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand, “It’s telling that, in order to advance the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s radical abortion legacy, Governor Newsom couldn’t find someone radical enough in the entire state of California and had to appoint someone from Maryland.”
Butler began her career as a union organizer, working on the East Coast with mostly health care workers in Baltimore and New Haven, Connecticut, as well as janitors in Philadelphia. She moved to California in 2009 and became president of a local service employees union chapter — the largest chapter in Los Angeles — and was elected president of the union’s California state council in 2013. In her capacity as president of the council, she enthusiastically endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, alongside Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Washington, D.C.’s mayor Muriel Bowser (D). During her time as a union organizer, Butler worked hard to increase the minimum wage statewide and increase taxes on wealthy Californians.
In 2018, Butler was appointed to the governing board of the University of California by Newsom’s predecessor, Governor Jerry Brown. That same year, Butler joined SCRB Strategies, a California political consulting firm that has since renamed itself Bearstar Strategies. In her role at SCRB, Butler helped advise and craft campaigns for prominent California Democrats, including Newsom and Harris. In fact, Butler is largely credited with organizing Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign in the Democratic primary and was even tapped to manage the campaign all the way to the White House, until Harris suspended the campaign and accepted an offer to serve as Joe Biden’s vice president. While assisting in Harris’s campaign, Butler was instrumental in garnering support for Harris from labor unions.
Butler had been a Harris supporter since 2010, successfully lobbying other union officials to include Harris in their endorsements for California attorney general, a position she eventually won. When launching her presidential primary campaign in 2018, Harris quipped, “Laphonza [Butler] stuck with me from the beginning through the end.”
In 2021, Butler left California and moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, to accept a position as the president of EMILY’s List. Founded in 1985, EMILY’s List is a political action committee dedicated to funding and promoting the campaigns of female pro-abortion politicians. The group’s website summarizes its mission by saying simply, “We elect Democratic pro-choice women to office.” Some of those the organization has endorsed include Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Governors Maura Healy (D-Mass.) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.). EMILY’s List has also repeatedly endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential bids, but also supported both Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren. The organization boasts of having endorsed over 1,700 candidates who have successfully won offices — at the local, state, and federal levels. Platform points the group advances include taxpayer-funded abortion and abortion on demand up to the moment of birth.
EMILY’s List has drawn criticism for its myopic focus on abortion. Democrats such as Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) have criticized its abortion activism, saying in 2008 that the group’s focus is “too narrow.” She added, “I represent women who organize unions, carry mail on their backs, raise children, fight harassment in the workplace. … They love their husbands and their sons. And with EMILY's List, I always felt there was a class-based, gender-based divide.”
The pro-abortion group has also clashed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), especially over how much money special interests and activist groups can donate to a political candidate, arguing that there should be no limit on how much money fundraisers can give to politicians. In light of Butler’s appointment to the Senate, FEC analyst Rob Pyers pointed out that, according to her FEC filings, the EMILY’s List president hasn’t lived in California for at least two years.
Butler is expected to be sworn into office on Wednesday by Kamala Harris. She identifies as a lesbian and will be the first LGBT-identifying member of congress to represent California.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.