Sen. Laphonza Butler Announces She Will Not Seek Full Term in Senate, Shaking Up California’s 2024 Election

In a surprising announcement, Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) revealed that she will not be running for a full term in the Senate next year.[0] Butler was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein earlier this month.[1] Despite being a recent addition to the Senate, Butler has decided not to pursue a full term in the upcoming election.

Butler, who was previously the president of the abortion rights group Emily's List and a prominent union official, was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on October 2.[2] She made history as the first openly Black lesbian to enter Congress and currently serves as the sole Black female senator in the chamber. Additionally, she is the first openly LGBTQ member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In her statement, Butler emphasized the importance of elected leaders having clarity about their roles and responsibilities.[3] She explained that she spent the past 16 days reflecting on her own clarity and what she wants to achieve in her career. Ultimately, she decided that running for a full term in the Senate was not the right decision for her, despite knowing she could win the campaign.[1]

The decision not to run for a full term has implications for the upcoming 2024 Senate race in California. Several other candidates have already announced their intentions to run, including current U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, and Katie Porter, as well as former Major League Baseball player Steve Garvey.[4] Butler's absence from the race may alleviate concerns about splitting Democratic votes in the primary and could potentially impact the outcome.

While many breathed a sigh of relief at Butler's decision, it is worth noting that she still holds influence over the election.[0] Her Senate experience and position as an incumbent could potentially propel her into a higher office in California in the mid-2020s.[0]

Governor Newsom clarified that he did not place any restrictions on whether Butler could run for a full term, leaving the decision up to her.[5] However, her decision not to run means that the already crowded field of candidates will not have to face an incumbent senator, potentially leveling the playing field for all contenders.

California's primary system allows all candidates to run on the same ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.[6] This system could potentially benefit candidates from both major parties and lead to unexpected outcomes.

Overall, Butler's decision not to run for a full term in the Senate has significant implications for the 2024 election in California. While it may come as a surprise to many, Butler has made the choice that she believes is right for her. The race for Feinstein's seat continues to be competitive, with several prominent Democrats and a Republican vying for the position.

0. “Appointed U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler Announces She Will Not Run For Full Term In 2024 – California Globe” California Globe, 19 Oct. 2023,

1. “New U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler Bows Out of 2024 Race: ‘Not the Greatest Use of My Voice'” California Local, 19 Oct. 2023,

2. “Senator Laphonza Butler, who replaced Dianne Feinstein, won't seek a full term” Axios, 19 Oct. 2023,

3. “Laphonza Butler will not seek a full term in late California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's seat” New York Post , 19 Oct. 2023,

4. “Laphonza Butler Announces Decision Not to Seek Full Senate Term”, 20 Oct. 2023,

5. “Laphonza Butler will not seek full term in Senate in 2024” The Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2023,

6. “Laphonza Butler says she will not seek Senate seat in 2024 | News Channel 3-12” KEYT, 19 Oct. 2023,

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