top of page
Search

What The Senate Appointment Tells Us About Laphonza Butler AND Presidential Wanna Be Gavin Newsom



Another mediocre corporatist appointment from Gavin Newsom shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even after he cam e out with his cringe-worthy statement about appointing a Black woman, he certainly was never going to appoint a progressive icon like Barbara Lee. So he made up a plausible excuse about not appointing anyone running in 2024 (ie, Barbara Lee). Like with all of his appointments, he wanted someone from the corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Party. So what do we know about Maryland resident Laphonza Butler?


First and foremost— after the not-a-progressive thing— she’s a perfect Democratic identity political schlemiel: Black, gay woman. That’s wonderful; Gavin, the wealthy, neoliberal anti-worker politician, gets a gold star… 3 gold stars. So what do we really know about Butler? I’ll get to EMILY’s List in a moment. Before that, the Mississippi-born-and-raised Butler was elected president of the California SEIU (2013)— her stepping stone to political power and personal wealth. She was a 2016 anti-Bernie Hillary elector and in 2018 Jerry Brown appointed her (gave her a sinecure) as a regent to the University of California in 2018, the same year she became a partner at SCRB strategies (now Bearstar Strategies), one of California’s top political consulting firms, which managed Newsom’s campaigns and where she helped elect all the characters from the Newsom wing of the party, from Kamala on down. Somewhere in there she started working with L.A. charter school maven Austin Beutner. A classic sell-out, one of her clients at SCRB was anti-union Uber, a real betrayal of her years at the SEIU. After SCRB she went to work as the top national lobbyist for another eyebrow-raising firm, Airbnb (2020). The following year EMILY’s List hired her as president. (She has since re-registered to vote in California, so she certainly knew this was coming before Newsom told anyone.)


When Blue America started, EMILY’s List was our model. Our admiration turned to scorn as EMILY’s List turned to careerist, self-serving empire building, corruption and conservatism. EMILY’s List became an operation for self-advancement within the Democratic Party and was soon firmly on board with the pro-business, anti-progressive wing of the party. They endorse conservative women, not women like AOC, Rashida Tlaib and Zephyr Teachout. They specialize in right-of-center corporate Dems like Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Cheri Bustos (IL), Gwen Graham (FL), Kathy Manning (NC), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Susie Lee (NV), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Gina Raimondo (RI), Jacky Rosen (NV) and Claire McCaskill (MO).



We’ve been writing about EMILY’s List’s foibles since 2008 but I had to laugh at my own funny from 2014: EMILY’s Lost. “This was a great year for EMILY's List. They accomplished their top goal-- raising an immense amount of money to pay their executives and run their operation. Their candidates mostly lost but winning is only important to EMILY's List insofar as it helps goose the contribution flow. When Ellen Malcolm and a couple dozen friends founded EMILY's List in 1985, they were launching a model group for progressives across the country. Everyone admired EMILY's List. A lot has changed since then. Their SuperPAC, Women Vote! spent $8,223,774, a very different pot of money from the one that keeps the organizational wheels greased and the empire growing.” That year, of the 14 mostly-conservative women they spent the most money, 10 lost, one beat a progressive in the primary and two are still right-of-center members of Congress, Ann Kuster (head of the New Dems) and Jeanne Shaheen (who has the 7th worst voting record of any Senate Democrat).


We noted that “EMILY's List itself took in $40,241,135 this cycle, their biggest haul in history. A relatively small amount went to help candidates. The biggest single expenditure was $11,014,920 which went to paying their own staffers. After that came $7,265,792 for federal candidates. Administrative costs $4,833,980 and consulting fees added up to $3,229,311 [mostly to their own families and associates]. And just over $50,000 for... food. Today they were trying to take credit for as much as they could. Glomming on to Bonnie Watson Coleman's spectacular win in New Jersey-- considering their refusal to support her in the primary when she actually needed the help-- doesn't count. And Alma Adams district is a D+26 district, so thanks for the imput. Their destructive role in Hawaii was far more to the point of what EMILY's List is all about. The Hawaiian progressive Policy Bear blog exposed them last August— “EMILY’s List spent a huge amount of their members’ donations in futile efforts to defeat two progressive champions in Hawai’i: EMILY’s List wasted nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in Hawai’i trying unsuccessfully to beat progressive male candidates-- in Schatz’s case a progressive male Senator endorsed by every single woman senator who got involved in the race, including EMILY’s List icon Elizabeth Warren-- with conservative women. They blew $697,891 bolstering Hanabusa and $49,971 bolstering far right reactionary Donna Mercado Kim, a religious freak who’s commitment to Choice is highly suspect.”

Monday’s NY Times article on Butler called her “a fixture in California politics for nearly 15 year.” OK, to insiders, maybe. They’d mention though that “Many members of labor unions in California ‘were really angry and really felt like this was treachery’ when Butler consulted for Uber… ‘What we remember her for is not her time as president of an important local, but as later making money by consulting for one of the most exploitative labor companies in the country.’”


Butler will serve until California voters elect a successor to Feinstein in November 2024. She could run in that election herself, but has not yet indicated whether she would do so.
Newsom said on Monday that he told Butler immediately that she could make her own decision about running for a full term: “I have an incredible appointee and she’ll make a decision with no constraints, no expectations.”
That marked a shift from the governor’s position last month, when the vacancy was still a hypothetical possibility and he described a potential appointment as an “interim” role, implying that he would not appoint someone who would try to retain the seat.
If she were to run, Butler would not have much time to build a campaign team and raise money before the California primary on March 5. She would start with the advantage of a brief incumbency, but without the funds needed to run a statewide campaign in California, the nation’s most populous state.

Politico, yesterday: “Newsom has spent his career navigating conflicting relationships between labor and business— so has his pick… [M]irrors his own values on labor and business issues… The co-founder of a winery, Newsom has sometimes put corporate interests ahead of the wishes of the state’s powerful labor unions, citing the need to boost California’s homegrown tech industry or manage economic realities. That approach has often frustrated liberal allies… [Butler is known for] advising corporate interests as they fought labor-friendly legislation. Butler’s appointment comes at a rocky point in Newsom’s relationship with labor. He faces fierce criticism over vetoing high-profile labor priorities, including unemployment benefits for striking workers and limits on driverless trucks… Despite some social media chatter questioning her progressive credentials, the state’s key labor actors aren’t criticizing Butler for her corporate ties in the same way they might attack the governor.”


Yep, they have to make the best of a bad situation. Newsom certainly didn’t consult any unions (or progressives) before announcing Butler out of nowhere, a move seen as a bid to keep a progressive from winning the seat in 2024.

5 Comments


Guest
Oct 05, 2023

If you are an African American and/or LGBT and a Rockefeller Republican (the original socially liberal, fiscally conservative), your career path in the Democratic Party is solid gold.

It is obviously no longer even necessary to waste your early years with a genuinely progressive organisation, to establish progressive street cred, any more.


Barak Obama presided over the virtual destruction of the black middle class. He protected the bankers while they were stealing peoples homes. While he lead the party, the Democratic Party nearly went extinct.


Obama is the model for future Democratic leadership, because after all the destruction he presided over, he is revered by the people whose lives he destroyed, and untouchable, because of that reverence. That makes him…

Like
Guest
Oct 06, 2023
Replying to

he's god to democraps because he's black and he showed them how to get billions from corporate america and still fail to lose an election. $hillbillary is a woman but was unable to show voters how to get billions from corporate america and fail to lose. But she's white.


Is the lesson here that a multifaceted ID candidate that is as openly corrupt as a menendez gets automatic deity status among democrap voters?


And why does nobody but me condemn not the corrupt party BUT the dumber than shit voters who make it possible for those fuckers to fail to lose?

Like

Guest
Oct 05, 2023

"...a move seen as a bid to keep a progressive from winning the seat in 2024."


sums it up nicely. also affirms exactly what I've been saying about your democraps for a very long time.


Whoever your corrupt democrap CA gov nominated, you could have been quite sure that he/she/it would be a typically party-vetted hapless worthless feckless lying CORRUPT neoliberal fascist pussy... and being non-binary AND black AND female... best possible ID candidate that money could buy.

Like

As Jim Hightower responded when he was asked about the prospects of a 3d party:


"Hell, I'd settle for a second one!"

Like
Guest
Oct 05, 2023
Replying to

Not with this bunch of dumber than shit voters. they'll settle for the other half of the money party every single time. you can attest.

Like
bottom of page