Newsom’s says his ‘incredible’ pick for Senate can run if she wants

Butler, who will be sworn in Tuesday, hasn’t publicly expressed her plans and isn’t expected to make an announcement until after Feinstein’s memorial on Thursday, according to a person with knowledge of her timeline.

She will serve out much of what was left in Feinstein’s term, which was to end next year. She will have to decide soon if she wants to run for the seat — jumping into an active primary that includes three Democratic House members: Barabara Lee, Adam Schiff and Katie Porter.

Newsom, who had pledged in 2021 to fill the seat with a Black woman, if given the opportunity, said he has left the decision in Butler’s hands, despite having earlier refused to name Lee to the post to avoid interfering with the race.

“We didn’t have that conversation. I said, ‘This is up to you.’ That was the end of that conversation,” Newsom said.

Whatever she decides, the governor said she would be an ideal candidate for the seat if she chooses to run for it. He noted Butler’s age, as well as her background advocating for abortion rights, LGBTQ people and labor unions.

“I’ve got an incredible appointee,” Newsom said.

Butler is president of EMILY’s List, the national fundraising giant for Democratic women candidates. She previously worked as an adviser on Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign and led a union of long-term care workers. Butler has also done policy consulting work for corporate clients, including Airbnb and Uber.

“You in some ways can’t even make all of this up, if I had to literally design from the mind of imagination, put pen to paper, someone I would like,” Newsom said. “Including the time of life, she’s just 44 years old.”

Newsom told “Meet the Press” in September that he wanted a placeholder appointee to avoid tipping the scales close to the March 5 election.

That comment drew a furious response from Lee, who said it was an insult for Newsom to appoint a Black woman to a caretaker role.

On Monday, Newsom said the comment had been a “hypothetical on top of a hypothetical” because he didn’t expect Feinstein to die in office.

“With grace, I walked into it by saying I didn’t want to get in the middle of the primary,” Newsom said. “I said what I said. That’s rearview mirror stuff right now.”

Melanie Mason contributed to this report.

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