Newsom selects political strategist living in Maryland to fill Senate seat

October 2, 2023

Laphonza Butler with Kamala Harris


California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced the appointment of Democratic Party political strategist Laphonza Butler, currently residing in Maryland, to the United States Senate seat that became vacant last week following the death Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Butler’s appointment fulfills a promise Newsom made to appoint a Black woman should he have the role of choosing Feinstein’s successor. In addition to being a Black woman, Butler is openly lesbian.

“She will make history — becoming the first Black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate,” Newsom stated Sunday evening.

Butler, a former labor leader, UC regent and advisor to now-Vice President Kamala Harris, is the president of EMILY’S List, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee that works to get Democratic pro-choice women elected to office. 

EMILY’S List announced Butler as its new president in Sept. 2023. Butler has lived in Silver Springs, Maryland since around that time, campaign finance filings indicate.

Multiple Butler online bios stated as recently as Sunday evening that she lives in Maryland. After news of her selection for the Senate seat broke, EMILY’S List removed a sentence from her bio stating she lives in Maryland with her partner and their daughter. Likewise Sunday evening, Butler removed Maryland as her location in her bio on X, formerly Twitter.

Screenshot of Butler’s X account

“I’m honored to accept Gov. Gavin Newsom’s nomination to be the U.S. Senator for a state I have made my home and honored by his trust in me to serve the people of California and this great nation,” Butler stated in a post on X on Monday morning. 

Newsom’s office told media Butler is currently registered to vote in Maryland, but she owns a home in California and will re-register to vote there. Campaign finance filings show, prior to taking the EMILY’S List job, Butler lived in View Park, Calif., a neighborhood in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County.

Previous reports indicate Butler, who grew up in Mississippi, moved to California around 2009. In California, Butler served as the president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015, the state’s largest labor union. As a labor leader, Butler worked to raise California’s minimum wage and increase income taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents.

In 2018, Butler left her SEIU job to become a partner at SCRB Strategies, a political consulting firm where she was a strategist for candidates. While with SCRB, Butler served as a senior advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign. Butler has  ties to the vice president dating back to Harris’s initial campaign for California Attorney General in 2010.

Also in 2018, then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Butler to the University of California Board of Regents. In between her SCRB and EMILY’S List jobs, Butler worked as Director of Public Policy and Campaigns in North America for Airbnb. 

Butler will serve as interim U.S. Senator for the duration of Feinstein’s term, which ends in Jan. 2025. Butler can choose to run in the 2024 election in order to keep her Senate seat. 

Newsom chose Butler over Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Black woman who has already announced her 2024 run for the seat Butler is filling. 

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Curious about the name? Was it originally Alphonso and changed to Laphonza? Since there are so many qualifications in this person, I think the cooperative facts are reasonable. I know that policies are what’s really important and that why people vote for Trump but some just don’t like him because you see what you get and he does what he says.

the name?” What does her parents name choice have to do with anything?

“cooperative facts” Bullshit.

“Trump he does what he says.” Yes he grabed them in the pussy and the swamp draining is going great, all of the arrested and the trials provide justice and entertainment for us. lol

What a panderer…. he is setting up his campaign for president… be careful… with Newsom as president you get what we have now… or worse…

As conservatives shouldn’t we want what we have now…? Things are pretty good in America, I’d rather live now than any other point in our history. I’ll take the same over revolution (ya know, the definition of conservatism)

I would guess that depends on what you say is the “what we have now”. If you could detail that a bit it would help.

I would ask Rambunctious. I took it very broadly present day America – it’s good and bad. Even though we have a lot of issues in modern politics and society, I would be unwilling to gamble the sum positive away for some leftist or MAGA radical reworking. I trust incremental change to what ideologies or candidates seeking retribution have on offer. A reasonable position I think?

No shame from the democrat party, electing 2 completely unqualified airbags.

Sounds like a more pay to play deal than putting someone in that can do the job. Then again if she is like Kamala you won’t even know she’s there

Sen. Feinstein unknowingly had a ChiCom spy as her chauffeur for twenty years. Newsom made a choice to ignore 96% of the population. If someone as smart and sophisticated as Feinstein can be fooled for that long, what horrors await the US Senate and California in a choice as flawed as this woman? There appears to be something seriously wrong with politicians like Newsom.

We’re going to quickly miss the much more moderate Dianne Feinstein.

Feinstein was more productive in the state she was in for the last 6 monyths compared to this Maryland resident.

Probably the most inexperienced Senator with a Senate vote.

It seems partisanly convenient to insult Democrats who have not held prior elected office as inexperienced, but praise Republicans as a breath of fresh air, detached from the swamp. I hope we can be consistent and would apply stricter criticism to JD Vance and Jon Ossoff who are likely less experienced.

At least they were elected by the voters.

True. But that has nothing to do with experience. Californians will have their vote in about 13 months – will be interesting to see if she decides to run for reelection against the growing Senate primary field.

And they were residents of theoir prospective states.

“Butler worked as Director of Public Policy and Campaigns in North America for Airbnb.” She lost my vote.

Didnt know just owning a house in another state provides residence in that state.

Hmmm… I wonder where she pays her taxes? Or, does she have a Ca DL?

I would bet quite a bit the Maryland DMV hasn’t gotten her a new license in the 30 days since she moved there.