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Newsom names Laphonza Butler, former Kamala Harris adviser, to fill Feinstein’s vacant Senate seat

California Gov. Gavin Newsom named Democratic strategist Laphonza Butler as Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s replacement in the U.S. Senate after the longtime Democrat senator died last week at the age of 90, Fox News confirmed late Sunday night.

Butler will finish out the remainder of Feinstein’s term in Washington, D.C., ahead of the 2024 election. In a statement, the governor described Butler as an “advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris.”

“As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault,” Newsom added. “Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.”

Butler, president of EMILY’s List and a former adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, will be the only Black woman serving in the U.S. Senate and the first openly LGBTQ+ lawmaker to represent the Golden State in the upper chamber.

Butler’s nomination marks the second time Newsom has selected a U.S. senator since 2021, when he chose then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace Harris after she was elected vice president.

Feinstein’s seat is expected to remain in Democratic control following the 2024 election, as the party has not lost a statewide election in the deep blue state since 2006.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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