SACRAMENTO — Civic leaders from across the nation are praising Governor Gavin Newsom’s appointment of Laphonza Butler to the United States Senate. Butler will be sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023.

Butler, a longtime labor leader and advocate for women and working people, will be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate. She will also be the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress in American history and the second Black woman to represent California in the Senate following Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I’m honored to accept Governor Newsom’s appointment to be U.S. Senator for a state I have made my home and honored by his trust in me to serve the people of California and this great nation,” said Senator Designate Butler. “No one will ever measure up to the legacy of Senator Dianne Feinstein, but I will do my best to honor her legacy and leadership by committing to work for women and girls, workers and unions, struggling parents, and all of California. I am ready to serve.”

What They Are Saying About Butler’s Historic Appointment


Congressional Black Caucus: “Today, the CBC celebrates the appointment of Laphonza Butler to represent the state of California in the U.S. Senate. Her background and years of experience will bring a much-needed perspective to the Senate, which currently does not have any Black women. For many years, Laphonza Butler has been a champion for women and girls, students, and union workers, and we believe she will bring that same fight to the U.S. Senate on behalf of Californians and our entire nation. As the first lesbian Black woman in the U.S. Senate, Laphonza will bring an important perspective to the upper house at a time when the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community are under attack. We look forward to welcoming Laphonza as the 59th member of the CBC and to continuing our work on behalf of the American people.” [LINK]

SEIU Secretary-Treasurer April Verrett: “For over 20 years I’ve watched Laphonza Butler up close. I’ve strategized with her. I’ve led with her. I’ve learned from her.  She’ll be a great addition to the US Senate. For workers. For women. For Californians. Great choice, Gavin Newsom.” [LINK]

California Legislative Black Caucus: “Congratulations Laphonza Butler on your historic Senate appointment.  Welcome to the California Delegation! The CLBC looks forward to working with you to improve the lives of all Californians!” [LINK]

NAACP California Hawaii State President Rick L. Callender: “We congratulate Laphonza Butler on her Senate appointment and look forward to the work she will accomplish as the first LGBTQ+ person to represent California and the only Black woman in the chamber. We commend Gov. Newsom for addressing Senate representation gaps and eagerly support our future Senator in her congressional journey.” [LINK]

SEIU California Executive Director Tia Orr: “Today Gavin Newsom again made history by appointing Laphonza Butler to the U.S. Senate. As we mourn the loss of a true trailblazer in Senator Feinstein, the Governor’s appointment of a Black, LGBTQ+ woman is a powerful demonstration of our state’s commitment to equity and representation. HUGE congrats to my sister Laphonza Butler: SEIU members and all working families look forward to seeing you shake things up on Capitol Hill!!” [LINK]

President and CEO of Children’s Defense Fund Rev. Starsky Wilson: “Children in California are winning this morning.” [LINK]

President & CEO of The Leadership Conference Maya Wiley: “Governor Newsom makes an inspired choice in Laphonza Butler. She is brilliant, caring, and an inspiring leader, who will fight to advance the well-being of every Californian and this country.” [LINK]


Equality California: “Laphonza Butler is eminently qualified to represent California well in the United States Senate and we are thrilled to congratulate her. This historic appointment by Governor Newsom will give our LGBTQ+ community another voice in Congress at a time when our rights and freedoms are under attack across the country. We look forward to working with Laphonza as she steps into this new role and continues her lifelong fight for our shared values of equity, freedom, and justice for all.” [LINK]

LGBTQ+ Victory Institute: “Congratulations, Laphonza Butler. Today she shatters a rainbow ceiling in becoming the first out Black LGBTQ+ U.S. senator! She will certainly be a champion for women, people of color and LGBTQ+ people in the U.S Senate.” [LINK]

GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis: “Lafonza Butler’s appointment is so important for LGBTQ people, Black people, and women not only in California but throughout the country. Our freedoms are under attack to be ourselves, make our own health care decisions, and have our votes and voices secured.” [LINK]

California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus: “At a time when the LGBTQ+ community is under attack across this nation, we cannot think of a better person to hold the line for our community in the halls of Congress.” [LINK]


President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson: “That’s what I’m talkin’ about! My friend Laphonza is an advocate and a trailblazer. She will be the first Black lesbian to openly serve in the Senate, a testament to Senator Feinstein’s boundary-breaking legacy. The Senate just gained another reproductive health champion!” [LINK]

President & CEO of Reproductive Freedom for All (Formerly NARAL) Mini Timmaraju: “Congratulations to my friend Laphonza Butler. As the first woman of color to lead EMILY’s List, she is committed to working tirelessly for reproductive freedom and our communities. She is a champion who will fight alongside us every step of the way in the U.S. Senate.” [LINK]

President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten: “Laphonza Butler is an inspired choice. She has spent her life working for a better life for people.” [LINK]

President of the Center for American Progress Patrick Gaspard: “Incredible selection by Governor Gavin Newsom!!! ⁦Laphonza Butler is a brilliant organizer, innovator, strategic thinker, who leads with integrity and courage and can always be counted on to be on the side of those most in need. Love this!!!” [LINK]

Chair of the Democratic Party Jaime Harrison: “Congratulations to my good friend Laphonza Butler … continue blazing trails and getting into good trouble!  Proud of you Senator!” [LINK]

Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile: “[Butler] will be a champion for the citizens of California and the nation.” [LINK]

Latino Victory: “We are thrilled to congratulate Laphonza Butler on her historic appointment to the U.S. Senate becoming the first Black openly LGBTQ+ senator. From her incredible track record, she will be a strong voice for working-class families, the labor movement, and reproductive freedom.” [LINK]

President of Everytown John Feinblatt: “Laphonza Butler is an advocate’s advocate and we’re thrilled with her history-making appointment to the Senate. We look forward to working alongside her to keep communities safe from gun violence.” [LINK]

Higher Heights: “As a close friend and partner to Higher Heights, we congratulate Laphonza on this appointment. With zero Black women currently in the U.S. Senate, we are at a pivotal time when a Black woman’s voice is needed more than ever in this legislative body. Voices such as Butler’s are needed in the halls of Congress to advance progress on the critical issues that voters are demanding action on. We remain steadfast in our commitment to uplift Black women at all levels of government and look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes during her time as a Senator.” [LINK]

Run for Something Founder Amanda Litman: “Congrats to Laphonza Butler! Making history (and lowering the average age in the Senate.)” [LINK]

CHIRLA: “CHIRLA congratulates Laphonza Butler on her nomination by Gavin Newsom to be our next U.S. Senator. Your commitment to working men and women, families, and immigrants, is unparalleled and we look forward to working with you advancing just and fair immigration policies.” [LINK]

Governor Maura Healey: “From her work as a union organizer to her leadership at EMILY’s List, Laphonza Butler has spent her career as a champion for workers and a staunch advocate for women and girls. I’d like to congratulate her on her historic nomination to serve in the U.S. Senate.” [LINK]

Democratic National Committee: “California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Laphonza Butler to fill the seat of the late Senator Dianne Feinstein. She has long fought for women’s rights and helped Democratic women get elected up and down the ballot with EMILY’s List. She will be the third Black woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to represent California in the chamber.” [LINK]

Moms Demand Action Executive Director Angela Ferrell-Zabala: “Laphonza Butler is an incredible leader and a fierce advocate for women and girls. I’m thrilled to watch her make history as the first Black lesbian senator to openly serve in Congress. Moms Demand can’t wait to work with her to continue California’s leadership on gun safety!” [LINK]


U.S. Senator Alex Padilla: “Throughout her career, Laphonza Butler has been a strong voice for working families, LGBTQ rights, and a champion for increasing women’s representation in politics. I’m honored to welcome her to the United States Senate. Governor Newsom’s swift action ensures that Californians maintain full representation in the Senate as we navigate a narrow Democratic Majority. I look forward to working together to deliver for the people of California.” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Patty Murray: “Congratulations Laphonza Butler! Thrilled to welcome such a strong champion of women’s rights, labor, and reproductive freedom to the U.S. Senate — looking forward to working with you on so many issues, from protecting abortion rights to making child care more affordable and accessible!” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “I’m so proud to welcome my friend Laphonza Butler to the Senate! From fighting for working families to helping elect pro-choice Democratic women as president of EMILY’s List, she’s always been a powerful advocate. I can’t wait to fight alongside her in the Senate!” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Tina Smith: “Laphonza Butler is an organizer and change maker, and has been fighting to improve the lives of women and all working people her entire life. She is a fantastic leader to fill the California Senate seat. I’m very excited to welcome Senator Butler to the Senate!” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow: “Congratulations and welcome to the U.S. Senate Laphonza Butler! After all of your hard work to elect women to the U.S. Senate at EMILY’s List, it’s exciting to see that you will have an opportunity to serve. You will be a wonderful voice for California and people throughout our country.” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan: “Congratulations Laphonza Butler and welcome to the Senate! I know how fierce of a champion you are for a woman’s fundamental freedom in particular, and I look forward to working with you to deliver results for the American people.” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar: “Welcome to the Senate Laphonza Butler! You are a strong, smart leader who I’ve gotten to know over the years and I’m excited to get to work together in the Senate!” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen: “Thrilled to welcome Laphonza Butler, a champion of reproductive freedom and equality, to the U.S. Senate! I look forward to working alongside Senator-designate Butler on issues impacting working families, women’s rights and more.” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono: “Laphonza Butler is a proven leader who has spent her career fighting for women and working people in California and across our country. I’m looking forward to welcoming her to the Senate.” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján: “Wishing Senator-designate Laphonza Butler a warm welcome to the U.S. Senate. She’s proven herself to be a strong advocate for justice and helping elected offices reflect what America actually looks like. I know she will honor the legacy Senator Feinstein leaves behind.” [LINK]

U.S. Senator John Fetterman: “Laphonza Butler has spent her career fighting for women and working people. I can’t think of a better person to continue Senator Feinstein’s legacy. Welcome to the Senate!” [LINK]

U.S. Senator Chris Coons: “I’m glad to welcome Laphonza Butler as she joins Senate Democrats in our work to deliver for the American people! As a fierce advocate for women’s and workers’ rights and an HBCU grad, I’m confident that her experience and passion for public service will serve her well in the Senate.” [LINK]

Rep Ted Lieu: “Congratulations to Laphonza Butler on being nominated to be our next U.S. Senator! I worked on a number of issues with [her] as a Member of the California State Legislature at the time. Laphonza will do a terrific job as Senator. I look forward to working with Senator Butler.” [LINK]

Rep. Jimmy Gomez: “I met Laphonza Butler almost 15 years ago when I was working in the LA labor movement and she was head of SEIU CA. She is a fierce fighter for women, working families, and our democracy. I look forward to working with her again in this new role.” [LINK]

Rep. Robert Garcia, Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus: “An enormous congrats to Laphonza Butler. Before her incredible work at EMILY’s List she was President of SEIU 2015 and the SEIU State Council. We both worked on the Kamala Harris for President campaign together and she’s a great friend.” [LINK]

Rep. Pete Aguilar: “I’m confident she will serve the people of California in the U.S. Senate with dignity and a deep commitment to our shared values.” [LINK]

Rep. Ami Bera: “I have complete confidence in Laphonza Butler’s ability to continue providing the same fierce advocacy for working families in California that we came to expect from Sen. Feinstein, and look forward to our partnership.” [LINK]

Rep. Becca Balint, Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus: “A champion for protecting LGBTQ+ rights, empowering the labor movement, and fighting for working families — Laphonza Butler will make history in the United States Senate. I know she will carry on the powerful legacy of Sen. Feinstein by leading with the courage this moment demands.” [LINK]

Rep. Adam Schiff: “With the passing of Senator Feinstein — a giant of the Senate and a trailblazer — I’m glad the Governor acted quickly. I want to offer my congratulations to Laphonza Butler on her appointment. I look forward to working closely with her to get things done for California.” [LINK]

Rep. Ro Khanna: “Congratulations to Laphonza Butler on her historic appointment to the Senate as a trailblazer in the LGBTQ and African American community. I appreciate her work on reproductive rights and with EMILY’s List and look forward to working with her to better the lives of all Californians.” [LINK]

Rep. Sara Jacobs: “Congratulations to Laphonza Butler on this historic nomination. I’m looking forward to working together to deliver for California and helping build a future where everyone can live with dignity and thrive.” [LINK]

Rep. Mark Takano: “As the first out person of color to serve in Congress, I am thrilled that Californians and all queer people of color have in Laphonza Butler a leader that can speak and legislate to the experiences of our community.” [LINK

Rep. Brad Sherman: “I want to congratulate Laphonza Butler on her appointment to represent California in the U.S. Senate following the loss of Senator Dianne Feinstein. I look forward to working closely with her during this critical period in our nation’s history.” [LINK]

Rep. Gloria Johnson: “This is just an amazing choice, congratulations Laphonza Butler!!!” [LINK]

Rep. Nanette Barragán: “Congratulations Laphonza Butler! Laphonza has a proven track record of fighting for California as president of SEIU and Emily’s List. Her personal & professional experience will serve her well in the Senate. This is a historic moment for our country as Laphonza will be only the third Black woman to serve in the US Senate and the first openly gay Senator from California. Proud to have you join Senator Alex Padilla and fight for CA families!” [LINK]


Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis: “Laphonza Butler has spent her career fighting for social justice, women’s rights, and working people’s rights. I know she will serve California well as our next U.S. Senator, paving a path for the next generation while continuing to break glass ceilings just as Senator Feinstein did.” [LINK]

Attorney General Rob Bonta: “Congratulations to California’s next U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler! I’ve had the privilege of knowing Laphonza for over a decade and have seen up close her moral clarity, fierce fight, and positive impact on the lives of millions. She’ll only create more opportunity, justice, and inclusion as Senator.” [LINK]

Treasurer Fiona Ma: “Congrats to Laphonza Butler who has been appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the U.S. Senate. Look forward to working with her on issues that matter to California in this new role!” [LINK]

Senate President pro Tem Toni Akins: “As someone who has effectively fought for the rights of women and working people throughout her career, Laphonza Butler is an outstanding choice to serve California in the U.S. Senate. I am grateful to Laphonza – an incredible leader and friend – for stepping up and agreeing to take on this important role. She is an excellent choice.” [LINK]

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas: “Laphonza Butler will bring a steady hand to the Senate at a time when California is navigating a once-in-a-generation political shift. The 2024 election is of unprecedented importance and stability is crucial. Thank you, Governor Newsom, and congratulations Laphonza!” [LINK]

California Legislative Women’s Caucus: “We commend Gov. Newsom for his choice of Laphonza Butler to be California’s new U.S. Senator, filling out the remaining term of the legendary Sen. Feinstein. Dianne Feinstein was a true trailblazer for women in politics, and so it’s fitting that her successor, Laphonza Butler, will also break barriers as the first out woman of color to serve in either house, Senate or Congress. For now, Butler will also be the only Black woman U.S. Senator and the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate. For the past few years, Butler has been a brilliant leader of Emily’s List, the nation’s largest political action committee promoting women into elected office. She was also the first mother and woman of color to be president of the pro-choice organization. As a mom and former labor leader, who headed up California’s largest union, SEIU Local 2015, representing hundreds of thousands of long-term care workers, Butler is a steadfast champion of women and girls and working-class families. She’s an excellent choice to represent California in Washington, D.C., and we’re confident that she will not only fiercely protect the rights of women and girls but also help build a better nation for all.” [LINK]

SEIU Local 1000: “SEIU members celebrate the appointment of Laphonza Butler to US Senate. Whether helping elect more women to office, fighting for working people as President of SEIU California, or helping pass a $15 minimum wage, she has continued to make a difference for workers in California.” [LINK]

California Conference of Carpenters: “We are confident that our new Senator will hit the ground running at a time when every vote counts. We thank Governor Newsom again for an excellent choice and truly believe Senator Feinstein would be pleased.”

California Teachers Association: “CTA members welcome having an ally for working people, for women’s rights, and for the LGBTQ+ community in the Senate as we continue to fight for equity and equality for all individuals. We congratulate Senator Butler on this historic and well-deserved appointment.” [LINK]

SEIU United Service Workers West: “There is no one better to represent California as U.S. Senator than Laphonza Butler. She is a visionary leader and a committed champion of justice for all. We are excited to have such a passionate champion for justice in this important office. Congratulations! Whether advancing the interests of janitors, security officers, window cleaners and food service workers or leading the passage of the nation’s first statewide $15/hour minimum wage, Laphonza Butler has already made an incredible difference for working people and communities of color.” [LINK]

California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice: “Filling the void left by Senator Feinstein’s passing will not be easy. Governor Newsom acted swiftly to appoint a capable leader and ensure that California is immediately represented without a vacancy during the important work in the Senate that is going on now and is needed to move our country forward. California’s firefighters congratulate Laphonza Butler, and we look forward to working with her to continue the tremendous work the late Senator Feinstein did to ensure our communities are safe and prepared for emergencies through the remainder of her current term.” [LINK]

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher: “Big news and history made! Congratulations Laphonza Butler!!!” [LINK]

California Medical Association President Dr. Donald Hernandez: “Laphonza Buttler’s unwavering dedication to equitable health care access and social justice, as well as her ability to unite diverse voices, makes her a transformative force, and I applaud Governor Gavin Newsom for elevating her to represent California in the U.S. Senate.” [LINK]

Health Access California: “We’ve had the privilege of working with Laphonza Butler and seeing up close her leadership in advancing health access, equity, and justice throughout her career. Californians and all Americans have gained a strong health advocate in the U.S. Senate.” [LINK]

California Primary Care Association President and CEO Francisco Silva: “CPCA applauds Governor Newsom’s appointment of Laphonza Butler to the US Senate. Laphonza Butler has demonstrated a tireless dedication to improving the wellbeing of all Californians. Her longstanding commitment to ensuring equitable access to health care and social justice embody the type of leadership that will result in meaningful change through her work in the Senate. Her ability to foster collaboration and inspire others will undoubtedly enhance the lives of all Californians. We extend our congratulations to Laphonza Butler and look forward to working collaboratively with her on behalf of all Californians in the U.S. Senate.” [LINK]

California Dental Association: “CDA congratulates Laphonza Butler on her appointment. She is well suited to represent California in the U.S. Senate. CDA has worked with Laphonza to expand dental services to the neediest and against Big Tobacco to protect disadvantaged communities.” [LINK]

Western Center on Law and Poverty: “Congratulations to Laphonza Butler, a champion for workers and anti-poverty efforts. We look forward to working with you to protect important federal safety nets, like SNAP and Medicaid as you trailblaze an important path for Black women and LGBTQ+ women.” [LINK]

University of California President Michael V. Drake: “Congratulations to our colleague and former University of California Regent Laphonza Butler, who has been appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the U.S. Senate. Looking forward to working closely with her in this new role.” [LINK]

San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman: “Brilliant choice. Congrats to Laphonza Butler, California’s first openly LGBTQ+ Senator!” [LINK]

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “Laphonza Butler is smart, has true progressive values, and is a strategic and effective leader. This is an inspired choice by Governor Gavin Newsom.” [LINK]

San Diego Mayor and Chair of the Big 13 Mayors Coalition Todd Gloria: “U.S. SENATOR LAPHONZA BUTLER!!! Great pick by Gavin Newsom. Congratulations Laphonza Butler! [LINK]

Long Beach Mayor Richardson: “Governor Newsom’s selection of Laphonza Butler for the United States Senate is a great choice. I’ve known Laphonza for many years in her time at EMILY’s List and as a labor leader. She brings a wealth of experience in advancing equity and justice for working people and a deep commitment to serving the people of California. Her leadership will undoubtedly make a positive impact for working families.” [LINK]

Actress Sophia Bush: “A phenomenal choice! Congratulations Laphonza Butler!” [LINK]

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown: “CONGRATS to our NEW SENATOR from California Laphonza Butler! Honored to serve under your leadership on the Emily’s List Board! You were a wonderful President of that fine organization — that helps Democratic, Pro-Choice Women Run for office and Win! Now you’re LIVING our mission!” [LINK]

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