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Senator Laphonza Butler Surprises by Not Running for Full Term in Senate

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In a surprising announcement, Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) revealed that she will not be running for a full term in the Senate in the upcoming election.[0] Butler was appointed to the Senate earlier this month to fill the seat left vacant by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).[1] She was sworn in on October 3, following Feinstein's passing at the age of 90.[0]

Butler's decision not to run for a full term came as a surprise to many, as it is not common for those in power to willingly let it go. However, she explained that just because one can win a campaign doesn't mean they should run a campaign.[2] She believes that her decision is the right one for her, despite it being unexpected.

Before her appointment to the Senate, Butler served as the president of Emily's List, an abortion rights group, and was a longtime union official.[1] California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed her to the Senate on October 2. Butler made history as the first out Black lesbian to enter Congress and is currently the only Black female senator serving in the chamber. She is also the first out LGBTQ member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

While Butler's decision not to run for a full term may have surprised some, it has been met with relief from others. Many lawmakers were polarized on whether she should run, with some urging her not to, citing Governor Newsom's earlier statements that this was a caretaker position only.[3] There were concerns that Butler running would further fracture votes for Democrats in the primary.[3] Polls following her appointment also showed that only 34% of Californian voters supported her, making it unlikely for her to win against other prominent Senate candidates.[3]

In her statement, Butler emphasized the importance of elected leaders having clarity about why they are in office and what they want to do with their power.[4] She expressed her intention to be the loudest and proudest champion of California in the remaining days of her term.[5] Butler quoted Muhammad Ali, saying, “Don't count the days, make the days count,” and vowed to do just that.[6]

Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Garvey announced his candidacy for the Senate seat as a Republican earlier this month.[7] 10-time MLB All-Star Garvey's entry into the race adds to the already crowded field of candidates, including Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee. Christina Pascucci, a former TV anchor and reporter, also announced her candidacy as a Democrat.[8]

While Butler's decision not to run for a full term may have relieved some, experts note that she still holds influence over the race and could potentially pursue a higher office in California in the mid-2020s.[3] Governor Newsom had not placed any restrictions on whether Butler could run for a full term, leaving the decision up to her.[4] If she had chosen to run, she would have joined a crowded field of candidates, including Garvey, Schiff, Porter, Lee, and others.[9]

California's primary system will see all candidates running on the same ballot, with the top two candidates, regardless of party, advancing to the general election.[10] This nonpartisan primary system aims to ensure fair competition and representation.

In conclusion, Sen. Laphonza Butler's decision not to run for a full term in the Senate has surprised many but has been met with both relief and speculation. While she may not be seeking reelection, Butler remains committed to serving the people of California in her remaining time in office. The upcoming Senate race in California is shaping up to be a competitive one, with several high-profile candidates vying for the seat. Only time will tell who will ultimately secure the position and continue the legacy left by Feinstein.

0. “Laphonza Butler Announces Decision Not to Seek Full Senate Term”, 20 Oct. 2023,

1. “New U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler Bows Out of 2024 Race: ‘Not the Greatest Use of My Voice'” California Local, 19 Oct. 2023,

2. “Newsom Senate Appointee Laphonza Butler Won't Run for Election Next November” Times of San Diego, 19 Oct. 2023,

3. “Appointed U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler Announces She Will Not Run For Full Term In 2024 – California Globe” California Globe, 19 Oct. 2023,

4. “Laphonza Butler Won't Run for California U.S. Senate Seat”, 19 Oct. 2023,

5. “Laphonza Butler won't run for Senate seat” KTVU FOX 2 San Francisco, 19 Oct. 2023,

6. “California Sen. Laphonza Butler will not seek a full term” POLITICO, 19 Oct. 2023,

7. “California Sen. Laphonza Butler Won't Run for Full Term” The San Francisco Standard, 19 Oct. 2023,

8. “Sen. Laphonza Butler not running in 2024 after filling Dianne Feinstein's seat” WPVI-TV, 20 Oct. 2023,

9. “Laphonza Butler will not seek full term in Senate in 2024” The Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2023,

10. “Laphonza Butler says she will not seek Senate seat in 2024 | News Channel 3-12” KEYT, 19 Oct. 2023,

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