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Butler will not seek a full Senate term


Longtime labor leader bows out

Laphonza Butler, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill out the U.S. Senate term of the late Dianne Feinstein, has announced that she will not seek election to retain the position.

“I have spent my life working for working men and women whether I was fighting to win more pay for their labor, strengthen their communities or help them get elected,” Butler said in a statement. “I’ve always believed elected leaders should have real clarity about why they’re in office and what they want to do with the responsibility and power they have.

“I’ve spent the past 16 days pursuing my own clarity–what kind of life I want to have, what kind of service I want to offer and what kind of voice I want to bring forward. After considering those questions I’ve decided not to run for a full term in the U.S. Senate. Knowing you can win a campaign doesn’t always mean you should run a campaign. I know this will be a surprise to many because traditionally we don’t see those who have power let it go. It may not be the decision people expected but it’s the right one for me.”

Her announcement removes a major question that was hovering over the Senate race, which has already attracted a field of big-name hopefuls.

Three Democratic congressional representatives are seeking the seat–Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter–along with Democratic Silicon Valley executive Lexi Reese. On Oct. 18, Los Angeles-area television reporter Christina Pascucci threw her hat in the ring as a Democrat.

Former baseball great Steve Garvey is running for the seat as a Republican. Lesser-known Republicans who have announced their candidacies include educator Denice Gary-Pandol and perennial candidates James Bradley and Eric Early.

Butler, a 44-year-old labor leader and former head of the Emily’s List political action committee, will continue to hold the Senate seat until the end of next year.

“I now have 383 days to serve the people of California with every ounce of energy and effort that I have,” Butler said in her statement. “Muhammad Ali once said, ‘Don’t count the days, make the days count.’ I intend to do just that.”

Butler announced earlier this week she had tested positive for COVID-19, so her announcement regarding the election came amid her recovery. She issued a separate statement on Oct. 19 in support of a resolution that was passed by the Senate in support of Israel, noting she was unable to vote for it because she is working from home.

“However, I was proud to cosponsor the resolution and would have voted for it on [Oct. 19].”