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October 3, 2023

Gavin Newsom’s Intersectional Senate Pick

California’s calculating governor chose a radical leftist to serve out the remainder of deceased Senator Dianne Feinstein’s term.

The death Friday of California Senate icon Dianne Feinstein at the ripe old age of 90 closed one sad chapter and began another.

Feinstein, whose mental and physical fitness for office had become an obvious problem in recent years, had already announced she would (mercifully) not seek another six-year term, but was pushed to finish out the current one by Governor Gavin Newsom due to the Democrats’ narrow Senate margin. “You think Mitch McConnell is going to seat another federal judge? Not a chance in hell,” said Newsom to a fellow Democrat on a “campaign” trip to Idaho in July. “You better wish, you better pray, for her health.” Upon her passing, Newsom was the one tasked with appointing Feinstein’s replacement.

We’ll come back to that successor momentarily, but it’s worth pointing out first that Feinstein is being lionized as a “centrist” Democrat by the mainstream media. They conveniently forget that she’s been a reliable leftist vote in most matters, including leading the charge on the so-called “assault weapons” ban 30 years ago. She was fondly remembered by Democrats and Republicans alike, and considered an “icon” and “legend” among her Democrat congressional peers. Columnist Matt Vespa notes, “She was an unabashed liberal whose professionalism and grace became qualities that irritated the more left-wing elements in the Democratic Party.” That seems to us a fair assessment.

Newsom dutifully promised in 2021 to make up for the loss of then-Senator Kamala Harris to Joe Biden’s presidential ticket — and his appointment of the Hispanic male Alex Padilla to replace her — by appointing a black woman should Feinstein leave office. Perhaps Newsom realized too late that those blacks, to whom he had promised reparations until he saw the price tag, are less than 6% of California’s population.

Or perhaps he saw the opportunity for a massive intersectional win when he replaced Feinstein by plucking the black lesbian president of the radically pro-abortion EMILY’s List, Laphonza Butler, from her home in Silver Spring, Maryland. All this in order to pacify three disparate Democrat affinity groups that can claim Butler as one of their own — and this despite the fact that Butler hasn’t claimed California residency for the past two years. Newsom, the presidential candidate in waiting, had shocked his hard-left base with a surprise veto of a bill favored by transgender cultists, and clearly felt the need to shore up that radical flank.

Newsom says he also chose Butler to keep from giving the advantage of incumbency to anyone already in the race to succeed Feinstein in 2024. “I don’t want to get involved in the primary,” he said. “It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away. I don’t want to tip the balance of that.”

Alas, the black woman already campaigning for Feinstein’s seat called Newsom’s pick “insulting.” That would be Oakland-based Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who posted on X: “I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks. The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election.”

This seems disingenuous at best. Lee, who’s running a distant third in that Senate race behind fellow congressional Democrats Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, would certainly have taken the seat, temporarily or not, had Newsom only asked her.

Moreover, while Newsom named a candidate not already in the race, there’s apparently no agreement by Butler to refrain from running for the seat herself. And since Senate seats have become somewhat nationalized, particularly in the larger states, Butler could leverage her massive pro-abortion mailing list for campaign funding. While Politico calls it “a major undertaking,” it still concedes that Butler “could be a formidable candidate if she chooses to be.”

Unfortunately for Laphonza Butler, Newsom has stigmatized her no matter what. As Tristan Justice writes at The Federalist: “Now it doesn’t matter how qualified Feinstein’s successor might be. Her stint in the upper chamber will always be marked with the asterisk label of an ‘affirmative action hire’ who was explicitly chosen for her sex and race. President Joe Biden’s commitment to pick a black woman as his vice presidential running mate and later for a Supreme Court appointment stuck Harris and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson with the same label. Their appointments would mean far more had the president picked them without an explicit racial litmus test.”

Finally, it’s worth noting that before joining EMILY’s List, Butler had served on the University of California Board of Regents and was president of the massive Service Employees International Union of California, where she helped enact the $15 per hour minimum wage among other “accomplishments,” such as raising taxes on wealthy Californians and thereby chasing them away.

Given her radical credentials, and given that the Golden State has become increasingly unrecognizable during the three decades of Dianne Feinstein’s tenure, Butler seems like a fitting pick to fill her Senate seat.

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