Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
September 21, 2015

  • Speaker Toni Atkins will challenge Sen. Marty Block
  • She says he reneged on one-term promise, but he denies it
  • Other Democrat-vs.-Democrat challenges looming

Toni Atkins probably would prefer to remain the Democratic speaker of the state Assembly indefinitely, but she can’t.

Although the state’s term-limit law has been amended to provide more flexibility, she’s bound by the earlier version that limits someone to three terms in the Assembly.

Atkins still has eight years of state Senate eligibility. But the first-term Democratic senator from San Diego, Marty Block, still has four years and intends to seek re-election in 2016.

Atkins could bide her time, waiting for the seat to open up in 2020, but, instead, she’s challenging Block next year, claiming he had promised her that he’d serve just one term.

“I thought I would be running against someone now,” Atkins told The Sacramento Bee. “I just didn’t think it would be Marty Block.”

Block denies making such a promise, saying, “There was never any guarantee.”

So there it is, an unusual – but not unprecedented – intraparty challenge to an incumbent officeholder.

To read expanded column, click here.