Ms. Butler, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom just weeks ago to fill Dianne Feinstein’s seat, said she had realized that “this is not the greatest use of my voice.”
Laphonza Butler, who was appointed 18 days ago to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Dianne Feinstein’s death, said on Thursday that she would not run for the office next year, clearing the way for a truly open race in California that features three Democratic congressional members and a former Major League Baseball star.
In an interview with The New York Times, Senator 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.”
Ms. Butler has never been elected to office and was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom less than three weeks ago, helping him to fulfill his promise to name a Black woman to complete Ms. Feinstein’s term.
Ms. Butler, 44, spent nearly two decades at the Service Employees International Union, where she led a branch representing some 325,000 home-care workers. Her accomplishments included leading the fight for a $15 minimum wage in California. Before taking the Senate appointment, Ms. Butler helmed Emily’s List, a powerhouse organization that helps Democratic women in favor of abortion rights get elected across the nation.
She also worked for a political consulting firm, where she advised Vice President Kamala Harris, Mr. Newsom and the ride-share company Uber. She later was in charge of political advocacy at Airbnb.
“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 on Thursday, explaining why she felt she wasn’t ready to run next year for a full term.
Even without Ms. Butler in the race, Californians will have a wealth of candidates to choose from. Three high-profile Democratic members of Congress — Representatives Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee — had been campaigning for months when Senator Feinstein died at 90 in late September.
Steve Garvey, the former first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, has also announced his candidacy as a Republican.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.