Laphonza Butler, President of EMILY's List, speaks during an event in Washington, Friday, June 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Four of America’s 100 U.S. senators will hail from Mississippi after California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to replace longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died last week at age 90.

Butler, a 44-year-old native of Magnolia and alumna of Jackson State University, is the head of the group EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights. She will be the third Black woman to serve in the Senate and the first LGBTQ member of the Senate from California.

Butler, who is currently a Maryland resident but will soon switch her voter registration to California, landed the appointment from Newsom to fill the remainder of Feinstein’s term, which ends in 2024.

“I am honored to accept Gov. Newsom’s nomination to be a U.S. Senator for a state I have long called home,” Butler said in a statement Monday. “I am humbled by the Governor’s trust. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s leadership and legacy are immeasurable. I will do my best to honor her by devoting my time and energy to serving the people of California and the people of this great nation.”

Butler will join three other Mississippi natives in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi’s senior senator, is from Pontotoc and graduated from University of Mississippi. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi’s junior senator, is from Brookhaven and graduated from University of Southern Mississippi. And Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee’s senior senator, is from Laurel and graduated from Mississippi State University.

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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.