Updated 1:25 p.m. Tuesday
Laphonza Butler, a former labor leader and Democratic strategist, was sworn in as California’s new U.S. Senator on Tuesday, days after she was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve the remainder of a term left open by the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
In the U.S. Capitol, Butler took her oath from Vice President Kamala Harris, whose presidential campaign she helped lead in 2019. Butler, who is the first Black, openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate, takes office amid mounting speculation over whether she will run for a full term next year.
Flanked by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and California Senator Alex Padilla, Butler recited her oath to applause in the Senate chamber.
“I can’t help but think of how proud Senator Feinstein would be, seeing someone as brilliant, as accomplished, as history-making as Laphonza Butler take her place,” Schumer said. “I know that our old colleague is looking down at this moment with pride, now that her seat is in good hands.”
Asked Monday if it would be good for the state if Butler decided to run, Newsom said “she’ll make that decision,” and reiterated that he placed “no constraints, no expectations” on Butler’s future plans.