Some Dems Upset With Newsom Over Feinstein Pick
On Friday, California lost one of its most prominent political figures as Senator Dianne Feinstein passed away at the age of 90. Her death has left a vacancy in the Senate, and Governor Gavin Newsom is tasked with filling it until a special election can be held. However, his selection of Laphonza Butler, a Maryland resident and former union leader, has drawn criticism from prominent Black Democrats who argue that Rep. Barbara Lee, a California native and current Senate candidate, should have been chosen instead.
Butler, who has previously lived in California and owns a home in the state, will need to register to vote in California to become constitutionally eligible to replace Feinstein. This has raised concerns among Black Democrats, who see Lee as the more qualified candidate for the seat. Fred Jordan, chairman of the board of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, described the decision as "disingenuous" and believes it will harm Newsom's standing among voters.
Newsom had previously promised to appoint a Black woman to Feinstein's seat, but his decision to pass over Lee and select Butler has been met with disappointment and frustration. Molly Watson, deputy director of California Donor Table and a board member for the Black Women's Democratic Club of Los Angeles County, said she was "baffled" by the choice and questioned why Lee, the most qualified candidate, was not selected.
Butler's background as a union leader may have played a role in her selection, as unions have been strong supporters of Newsom's political career. However, her lack of ties to California and the fact that she will be eligible to run for the Senate seat after taking office has raised concerns among Lee's supporters, who see it as an unfair advantage.
Other candidates being considered for Feinstein's seat include Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, both California natives and Democrats. However, the race for the Senate seat is expected to heavily favor the Democratic candidate, making Butler's eventual opponent less of a concern for those who oppose her appointment.
While Newsom's decision to select Butler may have been made with the intention of balancing the upcoming primary election, it has instead caused controversy and hurt his standing among Black Democratic voters. The appointment of a non-Californian to replace one of the state's most iconic senators has raised questions about representation and fairness in the selection process.
The special election for Feinstein's seat is expected to be highly competitive and closely watched, as it will have implications for both California and national politics. Newsom's choice of Butler over Lee may have unintended consequences and impact his future candidacy, as he is expected to run for reelection in 2022. The coming months will reveal the true impact of his decision and whether or not it will have lasting effects on California's political landscape.