A unique situation has developed in our State Senate District. Marty Block was elected as our State senator in 2012. Toni Atkins represents our district in the State Assembly. Ms. Atkins is being termed out and earlier this year she established an Atkins for Senate 2020 fund raising committee. Marty Block if re-elected would be termed out in 2020.
Several weeks ago, Toni announced she would challenge Marty for the Senate seat in 2016 rather than waiting until 2020. Challenging an incumbent in your party is highly unusual and frowned upon by party leaders. Atkins endorsed Block in his 2012 run and donated to his campaign. The two lawmakers have nearly identical voting records. Both get high marks from core Democratic constituencies such as labor groups, environmentalists and gay rights advocates.
Spending money on a fight within the party for a safely held seat would have little appeal in any state, but even less so in California given the election rules enabling the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election regardless of party. That means the Block-Atkins contest could last until November, carrying a high price tag.
The money spent on this race means less money available for other more competitive races.
Toni Atkins has been an excellent legislator, a good friend of our club and someone I admire greatly. She has the right to run for the Senate in 2016 instead of 2020. However this raises the question: Is this action best for the interest of the Democratic Party or her own best interest?
Keep tuned in, as I am sure our club will invite these candidates to a debate and then we can vote to endorse one or the other, or decide not to endorse either candidate.
– Ron Mandelbaum