Laphonza Butler Appointed to U.S. Senate by California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Wasting little time given the narrow Democratic majority, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed Laphonza Butler as the state's newest U.S. Senator. She will succeed Dianne Feinstein, who died late last week.

Butler is the president of EMILY's List, which works to elect Democratic pro-choice women to office. Prior to that, she was an advisor to Kamala Harris's 2020 presidential campaign.

2024 California Senate Elections

Feinstein had served in the Senate since 1992. Earlier this year, she announced she would not seek reelection in 2024. This set in motion what is likely to be the most expensive congressional race in 2024, despite the seat being safely Democratic.

A large field is likely to compete in the March 5 all-party primary. The frontrunners at this point are three current U.S. House members: Barbara Lee (CA-12), Katie Porter (CA-47), and Adam Schiff (CA-30). The top two finishers that day will advance to the November 5 general election.

With the primary just five months out, we should know fairly soon whether Butler will seek a full term in office. 

Complicating matters, Butler's appointment is early enough in the cycle that a special election will also be held for this seat next year. Both the primary and the general will be on the same dates, with the winner serving during the lame duck session of Congress after the November elections.  We will find out in the weeks ahead if any or all of the frontrunners or Butler will be on the ballot in a simultaneous, but completely separate election. 

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