California Senator Laphonza Butler won’t seek new US Senate term next year

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – Newly appointed California Senator Laphonza Butler, a Democrat, said on Thursday she will not seek a new U.S. Senate term next year.

Butler, a former labor organizer and political fundraiser who was tapped earlier this month to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Oct. 1, said instead she would focus on the time left in her appointed position, just over a year.

Her decision relieves a potential political problem for California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, who had said he would not take sides in a crowded field of candidates seeking the seat.

“Knowing you can win a campaign doesn’t always mean you should run a campaign,” Butler said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “I know this will be a surprise to many because traditionally we don’t see those who have power let it go.”

Among Democrats seeking to replace Feinstein in heavily Democratic California are Congressional representatives Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee. Former baseball star Steve Garvey is running as a Republican.

Butler was welcomed by many as first openly lesbian Black U.S. Senator, but her appointment also drew criticism because she had never held elective office and was not living in the state.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh and Paul Grant; Editing by Rod Nickel)