California Sen. Laphonza Butler will not seek a full term

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Newly appointed California Sen. Laphonza Butler will not seek a full Senate term next year, avoiding a contest that features three high-profile Democrats jostling for the once-in-a-lifetime job.

“I’ve spent the past 16 days pursuing my clarity — what kind of life I want to have, what kind of service I want to offer and what kind of voice I want to bring forward,” Butler said in a statement Thursday. “After considering those questions I’ve decided not to run for Senate in the upcoming election. Knowing you can win a campaign doesn’t always mean you should run a campaign.”

The news, first reported by the New York Times, means Gov. Gavin Newsom avoids another political quandary of his own making — deciding whether to endorse the candidate he had elevated to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The governor had previously signaled his appointee, whom he pledged would be a Black woman, would be an interim pick. Most observers interpreted that as a desire for that person not to run in the 2024 Senate race that was already well underway. But he later insisted he would not pressure Butler to stay out of the contest.

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