Newsom picks Butler to fill Feinstein’s vacant seat

By Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor

 Knowing that the fallen Diane Feinstein had exceptionally large shoes to fill, figuratively speaking, California Governor Gavin Newsom chose Laphonza Butler to serve as the Golden State’s representative to the Senate.

Feinstein passed away last week at age 90. Her three decades in the Senate made her the longest serving female US senator in history.

Feinstein had shared a long friendship with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accompanied the fallen senator’s remains to San Francisco in a plane from the president’s military fleet.

Speaking of her friend, Pelosi said the loss was “obviously official, it’s political, and it’s very personal.”

Pelosi added that Feinstein “was my neighbor, my friend. My family loved her personally, politically, in every way.”

Feinstein’s remains will lie in state at San Francisco City Hall on Wednesday, to be followed by a family-only funeral service on Thursday.

The senator leaves behind a property fortune of $102 million and a $62 million private jet. Most of the wealth she left behind came from her second husband, billionaire Richard Blum.

Butler was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, and she is the third Black female senator in US history. Her appointment came just two days after Feinstein died at her home in Washington.

She is also the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate.

President Joe Biden called Butler to congratulate her after she was sworn in.

Newsom had previously considered appointing Butler as his chief of staff, when she was still with the San Francisco-based consulting firm now known as Bearstar Strategies.

Butler received a warm welcome at the Senate, where lawmakers from both parties gathered around her to shake her hand after she was sworn in.

Prior to her appointment, Butler served as president of Emily’s List, the political action committee that supports Democrats who support abortion rights.

The appointment of Butler is short-term, and she will have to prepare herself for a five-month campaign should she opt to run for the position she has just assumed.

An advisor to Newsom told media that the governor appointed Butler without putting limitations or preconditions on his pick running for the seat next year.

Feinstein had served as mentor to Newsom even as she was breaking barriers as a senator.

Newsom keeps a promise he made to name a Black woman to the Senate following the departure of now Vice President Harris. Butler is a known confidant of Harris, serving as senior strategist on her 2020 vice presidential campaign.