California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is facing widespread criticism within his party for nominating Laphonza Butler, a Maryland resident, to fill the Senate vacancy created by the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
I'm proud to announce California's new United States Senator — Laphonza Butler.
As we mourn the enormous loss of Sen. Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault.… pic.twitter.com/SOnbfVPmXj
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) October 2, 2023
While Butler owns a home in California, she lives in Maryland and will be required to register to vote in California before she is constitutionally eligible to fill Feinstein’s seat. The 90-year-old career politician passed away on Friday.
Her FEC filing 31 days ago lists Maryland as her residence and yet Gavin Newsom is naming Laphonza Butler to be a United States Senator representing a state she doesn’t even live in. However corrupt you think politics is, multiply it by a 1,000,000. pic.twitter.com/bQ2RVwGFYn
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 2, 2023
Butler has already begun scrubbing her social media accounts of any mention of her Maryland residency, and photos of her removing this information have already gone viral.
Dianne Feinstein’s replacement Laphonza Butler just updated her X profile after she was exposed as being a resident of Maryland.
Gavin Newsom just selected her to be a US Senator for California.
Butler and Newsom might want to explain what’s going on here 😂 pic.twitter.com/iS8isVal3t
— Paul A. Szypula 🇺🇸 (@Bubblebathgirl) October 2, 2023
Democrats are outraged that Newsom chose to nominate Butler instead of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) — who was already running for the seat, as Feinstein had not planned to run for reelection.
Lee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) are all currently running for Feinstein’s Senate seat. While Butler will only be filling the open spot in the Senate until the end of Feinstein’s term in 2025, she may be able to run for the position as an incumbent in the 2024 election — prompting anger from supporters of the other Democrat candidates that had already been running for the spot.
Although Newsom previously declared that he would only choose a Black woman if he needed to replace Feinstein, many Black Democrats are angry that he chose Butler over Lee — despite the fact that both of them are Black women.
“It’s going to hurt him,” Fred Jordan, chairman of the board of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, told the San Francisco Chronicle in a statement on Sunday. “Those women in South Carolina that gave Joe Biden the bump, they’re gonna be outraged.”
Jordan also deemed Newsom’s choice of Butler as “disingenuous” and claimed that he had not “fulfilled his promise” because Newsom should have appointed Lee — declaring her the “most qualified” person for the position. He also condemned Newsom’s defense of the decision, as the California governor claimed that appointing Lee “would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away, I don’t want to tip the balance of that.”
Black Women’s Democratic Club of Los Angeles County board member Molly Watson, who also serves as deputy director of California Donor Table, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she was “baffled” that Newsom did not nominate Lee — although she did congratulate Butler for her nomination.
Butler is also facing criticism from the right, as many point to her pro-abortion activism as head of the radical pro-abortion group “Emily’s List.”
Gavin Newsom’s new Senate pick to rep California is Laphonza Butler, who:
-Heads up the pro-abort activist group Emily’s List
-Doesn’t live in CA, lives in Maryland
-Has never been elected to public office
-Supports aborting babies all nine months of pregnancy
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) October 2, 2023
Meanwhile, other Democrat activists are celebrating Butler’s appointment — though their celebrations are mostly centered around virtue signaling about her race, LGBT affiliation and radical pro-abortion views, rather than her actual qualifications.
A significant number of supportive posts about Butler on X, formerly known as Twitter, include mentions of these characteristics — such as Democrat activist Brian Krassenstein’s post that touted her as the “first ever Black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate.”
BREAKING: Gavin Newsom has picked Laphonza Butler to fill Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat:
– She will become the first ever Black lesbian to openly serve in the U.S. Senate.
– Butler is currently serving as president of EMILYs List, which is an organization devoted to electing… pic.twitter.com/ZNM2nuyRKx
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) October 2, 2023