In a historic move, California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Laphonza Butler SEIU to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Butler, a seasoned political strategist with strong ties to organized labor and the governor himself, currently serves as the president of EMILYs List, an organization dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights.
This appointment fulfills Newsom’s promise to return a Black woman to the Senate, making Butler the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate. She resides in Maryland with her partner, Neneki Lee, and their daughter, Nylah. Butler’s selection signals a significant moment in California’s political history and underscores the governor’s commitment to diversity and representation.
Laphonza Butler SEIU Bio
|Date of Birth
|1979 (Age: 44 as of 2023)
|Union Leader, Democratic Strategist
|Daughter named Nylah (adopted in late 2014)
|President of EMILY’s List (first woman of color and mother to lead the organization), Longtime union leader
|Estimated to be $800,000 (2022)
Butler’s Diverse Career and Political History
Laphonza Butler’s journey to the Senate has been marked by a diverse career in politics and advocacy. She previously headed SEIU Local 2015, a union representing long-term caregivers in California. Later, she became a partner in SCRB Strategies, Governor Newsom’s political consulting firm, and delved into public policy with Airbnb. Butler’s impressive résumé also includes serving as a University of California regent.
California’s Senate Representation
By appointing Laphonza Butler, Governor Newsom not only fulfills his promise to return a Black woman to the Senate but also makes history by having the first openly LGBTQ person represent California in this esteemed
body. This milestone reflects Newsom’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity in California’s political landscape.
California Residency and Senate Role
While Butler currently resides in Maryland with her partner and daughter, her spokesperson clarified that she is a longtime California homeowner. Butler plans to re-register to vote in California before taking her oath as a U.S. Senator. This underscores her commitment to serving the interests of Californians.
A Controversial Decision Process
Newsom’s decision to appoint Butler comes after intense speculation and pressure to select a Black woman for the Senate seat. Initially, he mentioned the possibility of an “interim appointment” but later clarified that his appointee would have the freedom to run for a full term. This move created controversy, as some believed it
sidelined Rep. Barbara Lee, who is already running for Senate. Nevertheless, Butler’s appointment signals a new chapter in California politics, emphasizing diversity and representation at the highest levels of government.
As Laphonza Butler takes on her new role in the U.S. Senate, all eyes will be on her as she represents California on the national stage. Whether she chooses to run for a full term remains to be seen, but her appointment marks a historic moment in California’s political history.
Who is Laphonza Butler?
Laphonza Butler is a political strategist and the president of EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights.
How did Laphonza Butler rise to prominence?
She started as the head of SEIU Local 2015, a California caregivers’ union, before working in political consulting and public policy for organizations like Airbnb. She’s also served as a University of California regent.
What makes Laphonza Butler’s Senate appointment significant?
Butler’s appointment marks a historic moment as she becomes the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the U.S. Senate.
Who is Laphonza Butler’s partner?
Laphonza Butler is in a relationship with Neneki Lee, with whom she has a daughter named Nylah.
What’s the significance of Governor Newsom’s appointment?
Governor Newsom fulfills his commitment to appointing a Black woman to the Senate, addressing a lack of representation and making political history in California.