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Major Announcement Rocks Key Senate Race: ‘Surprise To Many’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


California Democratic Senator Laphonza Butler announced that she will not seek reelection for a full term.

“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. “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.”

“I have spent my life working for working men and women whether I was fighting to win more pay for their labor, strengthen their communities or help them get elected. I’ve always believed elected leaders should have real clarity about why they’re in office and what they want to do with the responsibility and power they have. I’ve spent the past 16 days pursuing my own 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,” she tweeted.

“After considering those questions I’ve decided not to run for a full term in the US Senate. Knowing you can win a campaign doesn’t always mean you should run a campaign. I know this will be a surprise to many because traditionally we don’t see those who have power let it go. It may not be the decision people expected but it’s the right one for me,” she added.

“California voters want leaders who think about them and the issues they care most about. I now have 383 days to serve the people of California with every ounce of energy and effort that I have. Muhammad Ali once said, ‘don’t count the days, make the days count.’ I intend to do just that,” she concluded.

Butler told The New York Times, which first reported the news, that she would be “the loudest, proudest champion of California” for the remainder of her term but that “this is not the greatest use of my voice.”

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California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to temporarily fill Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s empty seat may have hurt Rep. Adam Schiff’s bid for the U.S. Senate.

After Feinstein’s passing, Newsom announced that Butler would take over for her.

Butler is eligible to seek reelection to the Senate for a full term in 2019. The current frontrunner in the primary, Schiff, may end up having to challenge an entrenched incumbent if he makes it to the general election in the same year. Butler’s interim position will end in January 2025.

Since Feinstein has held the seat since 1992, if Butler decided to run for it, she would be at a disadvantage because Feinstein is already in office and has many political connections.

Several high-profile California Democrats have entered the race to succeed Feinstein.

Interestingly enough, a guest essay in the Washington Post argued that white Democrats must drop out of California’s Senate race, or they aren’t actually committed to diversity.

Democratic Representatives Katie Porter and Adam Schiff have already announced their candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Dianne Feinstein. Author and podcast host Steve Phillips, however, argued that they should let U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, a Black woman, take the lead to show they “care about diversity.”

“Time and again it has been shown that Black women are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. Democrats across the country agree that Black women are badly underrepresented in our nation’s leadership. Schiff and Porter are White; Lee is a Black woman. The right course is clear, isn’t it?” he wrote in his opinion column.

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According to a Berkley IGS poll released on September 7, Schiff has 20% of the vote, making him the clear favorite in the crowded primary field. Porter comes in second with 17%, and Lee comes in third with 7 percent.

Steve Garvey and James Bradley, both Republicans, got 7% of the vote. Eric Early, also a Republican, got 5%, and Lexie Reese, a Democrat, got 1 percent.

Real Clear Politics data found that other polls show Schiff ahead of Porter by anywhere from 1 to 5 points. Lee comes in third, with a lead that is mostly in the single digits.

But Schiff’s checkered past might catch up with him, especially after a Politico report detailed Schiff’s history of cultivating powerful interests and rewarding them with taxpayer money when it served his political ambitions.

A Politico analysis found that Schiff earmarked some $10 million to go to defense contractors who have donated to his campaigns.

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Schiff allocated more than $10 million in taxpayer funds to five companies for the development of military technologies from 2001 to 2007, according to a Politico analysis of earmark records, which also revealed that these companies had contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaign.

Schiff also allocated $1 million in earmarks for Eureka Aerospace, a firm involved in the development of military technology aimed at intercepting vehicles evading checkpoints. Notably, Schiff’s campaign received contributions totaling $34,500 from the CEO of Eureka Aerospace and other members of his household, spanning the period from 2006 to 2020, Politico reported.

“Schiff earmarked an additional $1 million to Tanner Research, Inc., which was conducting research on detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which killed many U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tanner’s CEO donated $15,800 to Schiff from 2003 to 2012,” The Daily Caller noted, citing the report.

“Apart from these groups, Schiff also steered $800,000 to Orbits Lightwave, Inc. and $492,000 to Superprotononic, which was researching laser technology and solid acid fuel cells, respectively. Orbits is a contractor for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) while Superprotonic, which was reconstituted as SAFCell, Inc. in 2009, is a materials supplier to the U.S. Army,” Just the News continued.

According to Politico, the founders of both companies made campaign contributions of $3,700 and $1,500 to Schiff’s campaign.

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