California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) threw the race for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat in the U.S. Senate into turmoil on Monday when he confirmed that newly-appointed Laphonza Butler can run in 2024 if she likes.
Feinstein passed away last week at the age of 90. But she had already signaled earlier in the year that she planned to retire at the end of her term in January 2025. Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee had all entered the race, along with several Republicans.
Butler, 44, was until recently a Maryland resident, and is a left-wing Democratic insider who has headed EMILYs list, which seeks to elect pro-choice women to public office.
She had not previously been a candidate to replace Feinstein, but her appointment puts her in prime position to do so.
Newsom, who had pledged in 2021 to fill the seat with a Black woman, if given the opportunity, said he has left the decision in Butler’s hands, despite having earlier refused to name Lee to the post to avoid interfering with the race.
“We didn’t have that conversation. I said, ‘This is up to you.’ That was the end of that conversation,” Newsom said.
Whatever she decides, the governor said she would be an ideal candidate for the seat if she chooses to run for it. He noted Butler’s age, as well as her background advocating for abortion rights, LGBTQ people and labor unions.
California’s other Senator, Alex Padilla, was appointed by Newsom in 2021 after Kamala Harris became Vice President. He won his first election the following year, facing no serious opposition from either side of the aisle.
As Breitbart News reported Monday, many black Democrats are furious that Newsom overlooked Barbara Lee, and went outside the state to fulfill his 2021 pledge to nominate a black woman in the event Feinstein left office early.
The San Francisco Chronicle mocked Newsom’s decision in an op-ed Monday by Emily Hoeven, who wrote: “Despite his many years in politics, Gov. Gavin Newsom still has an uncanny ability to shoot himself in the foot.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.