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KPBS Midday Edition

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

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

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

Top Democrats Block, Atkins Won't Both Vie For Same Senate Seat
Top Democrats Block, Atkins Won't Both Vie For Same Senate Seat GUESTS:Marty Block, state senator

This is KPBS Midday Edition I Maureen Cavanaugh. The city of big announcements in San Diego's political form. Just a moment will hear about a new candidate for San Diego Mayor. First in a surprise move, incumbent State Senator Marty Block is dropping out of the race for reelection in District 39. He had been challenged by Toni Atkins for the siege. Senator Bob joins us now from Sacramento. Center welcome to show. Thank you, Maureen. We've made the decision not seek reelection? The speaker and I for the last several months have been in several forms together. Last week we had a few debates, and it became increasingly clear that she and I are on almost exactly the same page on almost every issue. Were both very progressive Democrats who want to the best weekend for the state of California and for San Diego. It just didn't make sense for us to fight when we should be working together to accomplish that agenda. This is your seats. I'm wondering what you were the one who dropped out. Digital impression from the local Democratic Party to drop out? No, honestly not one person pressured me to drop out. It was introspection. I reflected on our values. And I decided I have served in the Senate for four years now, Tony has not had the opportunity and. It is a wonderful place to be. I have a 26 year career and San Diego State I'm Mark Sauer 24 years as an elected official in various capacities, and frankly, for me it's time to move on to some other challenges that I think will be out there. ESQ cinderblock County running against another Democrat affect your ability to fund raise? I am sure it did. That wasn't really the issue. And all the races I've raised over $1 million. I'm sure that Senate Democrats were committed to helping me raise what it took to win this campaign. It wasn't a matter of "I went. We will never know that for sure, but it was a matter of what's the best for me and for San Diego and California. I think we're all this served by having me work with Tony instead of against her. Is that reported that Toni Atkins did have a were chest of $1.6 million. And you have reported so far over hundred thousand dollars in campaign funds. You still have confidence that you would have been able to raise that money to challenge her if you have decided to go on? Yes. I went over the $100,000 mark now. Frankly, if you raise $1 million in the San Diego market, it's not like that -- Los Angeles or New York, you can get all the advertising unique. And I would be able to raise it along with my Senate colleagues. That was not the issue. The issue was too much and to fight this kind of civil war. It wouldn't have been a good thing for any of us. So it was no secret that you are not pleased that Atkins decided to challenge them. You were moving a very smoothly towards reelection in district 39. Do you still feel that perhaps it was not the best move that she made? Or that it was presumptuous? Do you have any hard feelings looks No. I met with her this morning. We really plan to move on and work together. Politics is what it is. Frankly, I'd probably would not have come to a decision to move onto something else in my life had not been for this impetus. Just agreement San Diego State, I think it was 2005 I retired, have not been gone from San Diego State, two years later when folks came to me to run for the assembly seat and later the Senate, I would not have taken that opportunity. It different it took a while for me to come to this, I see it as a positive move. Senator, what will you be moving on to? Back in my background -- In my background, I have the college were president, I'm an attorney, I've been an attorney for four years. There are opportunities both in law and higher education that really interest me. In the community college world in particular, I have build couple years ago that allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees for the first time in California. A position that would allow me to help expand the program to provide more educational opportunities for students and more of a trained workforce in California's economy, that would be something I could get excited about. Do have any interest in running for mayor? No. That was an easy one. Thank you for your time. I've been speaking with State Senator, Marty block. And mourners today Lori Saldana me to formally announce to run for San Diego Mayor challenging Kevin Faulconer. But she is not running as a Democrat. KPBS reporter was at today's announcement, Andrew welcome.

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