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Top Democrats Block, Atkins Won’t Both Vie For Same Senate Seat

State Sen. Marty Block announced Thursday he won’t seek re-election

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and state Sen. Marty Block leave a meeting of the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club, Jan. 6, 2016.

Top Democrats Block, Atkins Won't Both Vie For Same Senate Seat


Marty Block, state senator


State Sen. Marty Block announced Thursday he will not run for re-election, avoiding a messy campaign fight with Assemblywoman Toni Atkins. Both are San Diego Democrats.

State Sen. Marty Block announced Thursday he will not run for re-election, avoiding a messy campaign fight with fellow Democrat Toni Atkins, who is termed out of her San Diego Assembly seat.

Atkins is the Assembly speaker for a few more weeks and then will be finishing out her last term. She announced her intent to run against Block at the end of September, a move that divided Democrats because both San Diego politicians are popular.

"To fight this kind of civil war really wouldn't have been a good thing for either of us," Block told KPBS Midday Edition Thursday.

A Republican has not pulled papers to run for Block's seat, Michael Vu, San Diego County's registrar of voters, said Thursday.

Some had questioned why Atkins would challenge a fellow Democrat, when the party has not put up a candidate this year to challenge San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican. A former Democrat, ex-Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, announced Thursday she is running for mayor as an independent.

Block told Midday Edition he has no interest in running for mayor. He has 10 months left in his Senate term.

Through her campaign, Atkins issued a statement about Block's announcement:

"I was as surprised as his colleagues with Senator Block's announcement. What is no surprise to me, having appeared at so many campaign events with him recently, is how much Marty Block believes in the State Senate and its ability to do good for the people of the 39th District. Our community has been beyond fortunate to have had some great State Senators, including Lucy Killea, Dede Alpert, and my mentor, Chris Kehoe. Marty Block was a fitting member of that line-up. I will work very hard to measure up to the standards they all set."

Block represents District 39, which includes most of San Diego north of state Route 94, the cities of Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach, and parts of unincorporated Rancho Santa Fe.

Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler tweeted out the news of Block's decision about 10:45 a.m.

In an interview on the Senate floor, he told Adler that he and Atkins have had several conversations and debates over the past several months. "It's become clear that we both want the same thing for the state. We both have (a) pretty progressive agenda," Block said.

By not having the two Democrats running for the same seat, Block said it will allow resources to "be spent on beating more conservative opponents" in San Diego races, including at the City Council level.

"It's a way to join forces and be a much more effective force," Block told Adler.

Now that he is not seeking re-election, Atkins told KPBS she looks forward to supporting Block in the future.

“From the beginning both of us looked at each other from very early on and said we hope we’ll be able to figure this out," Atkins said. "So obviously he made a decision.”

Block, who has served eight years in the Legislature, starting in the Assembly, said he is not disappointed with how things have turned out. He also said he thought he could have beat Atkins.

He said he is not retiring. He said he will look for opportunities in higher education and the law. Block said he has been an attorney for four decades, was a political science professor at San Diego State University for 26 years, and served on the San Diego Community College board of trustees.

"It's time to move on to some other challenges out there," Block told Midday Edition.

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