Laphonza Butler, the first Black LGBTQ+ U.S. senator, won’t run in 2024 for the California seat to which she was recently appointed.
Butler made the statement Thursday in an interview with The New York Times.
“Butler said that she intended to be ‘the loudest, proudest champion of California’ in the 383 days remaining in her term in office, but that she had realized ‘this is not the greatest use of my voice’,” the Times reported.
“I believe leaders should have real clarity about why they’re in office and what they want to do with the power they hold,” she said.
Before taking the Senate seat, Butler had been president of EMILY’s List, which works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office, since 2021. She was the first Black woman to head the group. She is a former president of Service Employees International Union Local 2015, the largest union in California and the largest union for home-care workers in the nation.
She had worked on Kamala Harris’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns as well.
When Newsom appointed Butler, he said she was free to run for a full term if she chose. Several others have announced they’re running, including current U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, and Katie Porter, all Democrats, and former Major League Baseball player Steve Garvey, a Republican.
Several months before she died, Feinstein announced that she would not run for reelection in 2024. Newsom opted not to appoint one of the declared candidates because he said did not want to give any of them an advantage.
In a recent interview with The Advocate, Butler commented on what she brings to the office, both from her experience and her identity as a Black queer woman.
“I think that this new opportunity as a senator is about bringing the voices of those who have been left behind and whose voices have not been heard front and center,” she said. “And being able to make that happen is a real point of pride and opportunity. I am dedicated to being the senator for all of California. And I think the fullness of my representation is an example of how I can do that.”
This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.