Assembly speaker to go up against Senator Marty Block

SACRAMENTO (KUSI) – As her tenure comes to a close, Assembly speaker Toni Atkins announced Saturday that she is going up against Senator Marty Block for his San Diego seat.  

“Absolutely it makes me uncomfortable,” Atkins told The Times. “Will I be prepared to do it? Absolutely.”

This showdown could cause tension, not just in local San Diego Democratic politics, but in the state Capitol.

“The soon to be ex-speaker knows very well that when one house challenges another, it’s a slap in the face of the leader of the challenged house,” Block said. Or put another way, the senator said, “This is a direct attack on Kevin De León.”

According to The Times, De León, the Democratic leader of the Senate, declined to say if he saw Atkins’ bid as an affront. In a statement, he praised Block’s "principled leadership" in pushing for more higher education funding in the most recent budget and called his colleague "an extraordinary senator."

“He deserves to be reelected and Senate Democrats are resolutely united behind him," De León said.

For her part, Atkins said her relationship with De León is good and that she hopes “there will continue to be mutual respect.”

Atkins said she worked hard to complete everything she had planned while in her seat, but this year she was unable to advance her major priority: a bill to expand affordable housing. She also has faced criticism for being unable to hold together her large caucus, comprised of many ambitious lawmakers elected under longer term limits.

As leader, she won praise for helping craft a $7.5-billion water bond that won nearly unanimous support in the Legislature before being approved by voters last year. 

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