Explaining why she decided not to run for the Senate in 2024, Senator Laphonza Butler stated on X (formerly Twitter) “It may not be the decision people expected but it's the right one for me.”
Explaining why she decided not to run for the Senate in 2024, Senator Laphonza Butler stated on X (formerly Twitter) “It may not be the decision people expected but it's the right one for me.” Credit: senate.gov

S. E. Williams

Recently appointed Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA) will not seek election in 2024 to fill the Senate seat for a full term.

The only Black Senator currently serving in the U.S. Senate, Butler was recently appointed to the seat by CA Governor Gavin Newsom to complete the term left open with the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein on  September 29, 2023. 

The first openly LGBTQ, the second Black Senator to represent the state of CA and only the third Black woman to serve in the U.S. senate in the nation’s 247 year history, Butler’s appointment was celebrated by a cross-section of communities across the state and around the nation. 

Newsom had previously committed to appoint a Black woman should Feinstein be unable to complete her term and Butler proved a worthy choice with her long history as a Democratic strategist, union leader and further political experienced gained having served as an advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign. 

Her decision not to enter the race may be viewed as prudent by some considering the field is already crowded with a slate of well-known and popular Democratic candidates including, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a member of the House Democratic leadership team and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Congressman Adam Schiff, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee; and Congresswoman Katie Porter, who represents parts of Orange County and is the former deputy chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. These, however, are just some of the Democrats who have already entered the field. Some of these candidates have already secured millions of dollars in   campaign donations according to reports. 

Laphonza Butler sworn in by VP Kamala Harris, 2023 (source: Wikipedia.org)

On the Republican side, at least two candidates have declared their intention to enter the Senate race including Steve Garvey a retired professional baseball player and attorney Eric Early. Some of these candidates have already added millions of dollars to their campaign coffers.

Butler’s Decision 

Explaining her reasons for choosing not to enter the race on X  Butler offered, “I’ve spent the past 16 days pursuing my 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,” she began. “After considering those questions I’ve decided not to run for Senate in the upcoming election. Knowing you can win a campaign doesn’t always mean you should run a campaign. It may not be the decision people expected but it’s the right one for me. “

Butler also cited concerns for family during an interview with FOX  last week, where she highlighted the reality of harassment. “My mother is 70 years old, she didn’t sign up for this. My daughter is 9, she didn’t sign up for this and so I’m thinking about my family and my family’s safety,” she opined. “I have already gotten my first piece of hate mail and a stranger has shown up at my door and so that is a real contemplation for me.”

As Butler made her future plans clear regarding CA’s 2024 Senate bid, the race was already being highlighted as one of the highest profile contests to watch in the coming year. On November 5, 2024, there will be two ballot items for the same Senate seat—a  special election to fulfill the final weeks of Feinstein’s seat in the 118th Congress that ends January 3, 2025 and a  general election for a full term Senate seat in the 119th Congress that begins  January 3, 2025.

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.