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Laphonza Butler, Newsom’s appointee to succeed Feinstein in the Senate, won’t run for full term

A smiling woman in a beige blazer stands before a blue backdrop with the text "EMILY's LIST" and "How Women Change the World."
Laphonza Butler attends EMILY's List’s 2023 Pre-Oscars Breakfast at the Beverly Hilton on March 7, 2023, in Beverly Hills. | Source: Araya Doheny/Getty Images for EMILY's List

Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Dianne Feinstein, told the New York Times that she will not run to keep the job in 2024.

"This is not the greatest use of my voice," Butler told the paper in an interview published Thursday.

Butler elaborated on her decision in a post on X, formerly Twitter, writing that it "may not be the decision people expected but it's the right one for me."

Newsom appointed Butler on Oct. 1, keeping his promise to appoint a Black woman to the seat.

The governor had earlier also promised that the appointment would be a "caretaker" who would not seek reelection, but he appeared to relent on that condition when he announced on Oct. 3 that Butler would be free to do so.

Democratic House Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee are vying for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Butler. Steve Garvey, a former all-star baseball player and businessman, has also entered the race as a Republican.

Butler stepped down from her role as president of EMILY's List, a Democratic political action committee dedicated to electing pro-choice women leaders, to take the Senate seat.

Butler is also a former president of the Service Employees International Union California and a former partner at Bearstar Strategies, Newsom's political consulting firm. She is the first openly LGBTQ+ person to represent California in the Senate.

Butler's announcement leaves the field for the seat in the 2024 election open to current contenders.

Schiff, who represents Los Angeles and has the endorsement of House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, has a narrow lead in recent polling, although many voters remain undecided. Supporters of Lee, a longtime Oakland representative, had campaigned for her appointment.

A message to Butler's office was not immediately returned.