Laphonza Butler Succeeds Dianne Feinstein As California's New Senator

After Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving female US Senator in history passed away on September 29, Laphonza Butler has been selected as her successor. Know the new California senator here.

Uma Bakshi
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After Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving female US Senator in history passed away on September 29, Laphonza Butler has been selected as her successor. Know the new California senator here.


Who is Laphonza Butler?

A prominent American labour leader and political activist, Butler has actively advocated for workers' rights and social justice issues. She has held leadership positions in various labour unions, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she played a significant role in organizing and mobilizing workers, particularly in the healthcare sector.

Her advocacy work has focused on issues such as increasing the minimum wage, expanding access to affordable healthcare, and improving working conditions for low-wage and marginalized workers. Butler's dedication to social and economic justice has earned her recognition and respect in both the labour movement and the broader political sphere.

Upon assuming her role as the new senator, she will make history as the first openly LGBT+ individual to represent California in the US Senate and the first African-American lesbian to hold a Senate position.

Who is Dianne Feinstein? 

Dianne Feinstein was the former mayor of San Francisco, having been elected to the post in 1978 after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk- "the first openly gay politician from California to be elected to office," according to CNN. In the wake of such tragedy, she began her political career as the mayor of the city from the  Democratic party, embarking on a journey that would see her break through a series of glass ceilings, beginning with her becoming the first chair of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. 
During her career, Feinstein broke a number of glass ceilings, beginning with her being sworn in as the first female mayor of San Francisco in 1978, and ending with her becoming the longest-serving female US senator in American history. 
She was notable for having put in place "the enactment of the federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, a law that prohibited the sale, manufacture and import of military-style assault weapons” (the ban has since lapsed), and the influential 2014 torture report, a comprehensive “six-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program,” which brought to light for the first time many details from the George W. Bush-era program," according to CNN
As she grew older, her continued presence in the US Senate led some to question her mental abilities. According to CNN, she dismissed those concerns, saying that "the real question is whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am."


Members of the US government and leading figures in American politics from both the Democratic and Republican parties took to social media to pay tribute to Feinstein, who at her death became the longest-serving female US Senator in history. 

As a Democrat, Feinstein believed that there was a 'middle ground' between both ends of the aisle, and was a firm believer that both the  Republican and Democratic parties could work together to make the US a better place.


With an impending government shutdown looming, her death will give California's Democratic  Governor Gavin Newsom the chance to "appoint a  lawmaker to serve out the rest of Feinstein’s term, keeping the Democratic majority in the chamber through early January 2025," according to CNN

Suggested Reading: Dianne Feinstein Death: How Are Vacant US Senate Seats Filled?

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