How does Laphonza Butler's appointment to US Senate affect 2024 California elections?

Gillian Brassil, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — How will Laphonza Butler’s appointment affect the 2024 U.S. Senate election?

Make that elections.

Even though California Gov. Gavin Newsom made an appointment to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein, there must be a special election to finish the late Democratic icon’s term. Primaries for the remainder of her term and the next one are in March, with the general election in November.

Whoever wins November’s special election will serve the final weeks before the new session starts in January 2025.

Butler, 44, the president of EMILY’s List who has never held public office, will be sworn in this week (after she is re-registered as a voter in California, having moved to Maryland to lead the organization that helps get Democratic women elected).

She will be the only Black woman currently in the U.S. Senate and the first Black lesbian to serve openly in Congress. She could take office immediately, allowing Democrats to control 51 of the Senate’s 100 seats.


“For women and girls, for workers and unions, for struggling parents waiting for our leaders to bring opportunity back to their homes, for all of California, I’m ready to serve,” Butler said in a statement.

It’s unclear if Butler will run in either the special election or for a full term of her own. She has until Dec. 8 to file for the March primary if she chooses to. The Bee reached out to EMILYs List seeking comment from Butler about her plans but has not yet heard back.

California, which has not elected a Republican senator in over 30 years, is seen as solidly blue for the 2024 Senate election.

Newsom appointed Sen. Alex Padilla in 2021 after Vice President Kamala Harris took her White House role. Padilla, 50, won both the special election and one for a six-year term in 2022. Democrats fell in line behind him after Newsom’s appointment, with no federal legislators challenging him in either election.


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