Newsom’s Feinstein Replacement Choice Under Fire

( – California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing criticism from his state following his appointment of the late Dianne Feinstein’s temporary replacement after the former senator passed away earlier this week. Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to fill Feinstein’s vacant seat, fulfilling his promise to select a black person when choosing the temporary replacement.

Butler is the first openly gay black woman to fill a Senate position, marking a win for progressives concerning identity politics. Despite the overwhelming support for Butler within the Congressional Black Caucus, many feel that Newsom’s appointment is insulting. Newsom originally referred to Butler’s appointment as a “caretaker” role, meaning she would step down following the end of her current term. Newsom clarified his position and claimed that he supports Butler if she intends to run for re-election following her term’s conclusion.

Newsom passed over another prominent Democrat when Feinstein’s replacement, Barbara Lee, was selected. Lee currently serves as a California representative and intends to run for Feinstein’s position upon her retirement. Many felt that Newsom should’ve appointed Lee, and his decision to choose Butler was insulting. The Congressional Black Caucus supports both Lee and Butler, but Lee remains more popular. Lee is likely planning on running for the vacant seat upon Butler’s term ending, but should Butler decide to run for re-election, tensions within the Democratic Party might rise. Newsom likely chose Butler for being openly gay, prompting praise from liberals concerned with sexual orientation.

Vice President Kamala Harris swore Butler in following her appointment, making Butler the only black woman currently serving in the United States Senate. Newsom’s appointment of Butler helped the Democratic Party maintain a slim majority in the Senate, which many felt would lessen following Feinstein’s passing. Although Butler will aid the Democrats in keeping control within the Senate, the seat will be contested upon her term’s conclusion as there isn’t an incumbent running. Feinstein’s death is a stark reminder of the aging congressional body, and other congresspeople will likely pass in the coming years.

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