Let’s Talk About the Laphonza Butler, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Replacement.

Who is she, and what does she represent?

Lauren Elizabeth
3 min readOct 2


Laphonza Butler, Photo Credit: EMILY’s List/Facebook

Well the news is in, and California Governor Gavin Newsom has come to a decision as to who he will be appointing to the Senate following the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Unsurprisingly, it was not Barbara Lee. In fact, it was none other than Laphonza Butler.

Christopher Cadelago with Politico writes:

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler to fill the seat of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, elevating the head of a fundraising juggernaut that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, according to a person familiar with the decision.

…The announcement was expected to come Monday, and an adviser to the governor, Anthony York, told POLITICO that Newsom is making his appointment without putting limitations or preconditions on his pick running for the seat in 2024. That means Butler could decide to join the sprawling and competitive field of Democratic contenders seeking to succeed Feinstein, with special elections now layered on top of the March primary and November runoff…”

“Fundraising juggernaut…”

Well, that just about sums it up, doesn’t it?

I did a quick search on OpenSecrets.org to see where EMILY’s List ranks among fundraising contributors. During the 2020 election cycle, they were ranked at 89 out of 39,467. When it comes to outside spending, they were ranked 17th out of 656.

And that’s really all you need to do. If you can fundraise and get money to the Democratic Party, this is what it’ll get you. The thing is, we all know Laphonza Butler could be the most qualified woman in the state, all the credentials and integrity you could hope for, and at the end of the day none of it would have made a difference if she wasn’t a great fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

Of course, I fully expect her to now enter the race for the Senate seat. I’m not sure if she will succeed against Barbara Lee or Adam Schiff, but either way this is obviously the start of a true political career. If she doesn’t win that race, she’ll run for congress or maybe, if Gavin Newsom runs for President in the coming years, she’ll run for Governor. She’s everything the corporate wing of the Democratic Party loves, and they’ll do what they can to get her going.

Frankly, I’m really not moved by this either way. There’s nothing unexpected about it, and Gavin Newsom has made the type of move we’ve come to expect. She’s a safe choice for someone trying to win over donors, and he knows it. It’ll be interesting to see what she does during her time in the Senate, and whether she’ll make enough of a name for herself to make the most populated state in the country want to officially elect her into the position.

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Lauren Elizabeth

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx