Toni Atkins: A Trailblazer Eyeing California Governorship

by Ryan Lee
0 comment
Toni Atkins Governorship

Toni Atkins, a pioneering figure as California’s first lesbian Senate leader, might once again make history by potentially running for governor. Her initial stint as acting governor in 2014 was marked by her homage to Tony Gwynn, a San Diego Padres player, and her light-hearted dismissal of Jimmy Kimmel’s suggestion to “invade Oregon.” Atkins, who then was the inaugural lesbian Speaker of the State Assembly, assumed the role due to a constitutional stipulation that requires the governor to delegate authority during their absence from the state.

Since that time, Atkins has served as the acting governor on several occasions, including a notable instance in July when she enacted three laws, humorously commenting on her enjoyment of stepping into the gubernatorial role, but with “better shoes.” Now 61, Atkins, currently holding the position of President pro tempore of the Senate, is contemplating a more permanent move to the governor’s office.

In a recent interview with The Big Big News, Atkins, for the first time publicly, expressed serious consideration of a gubernatorial run, following her announcement to step down as the Senate leader next year. With Governor Gavin Newsom’s term coming to an end, the race is expected to attract a wide array of Democratic contenders, eager to lead both the nation’s most populous state and the world’s fifth-largest economy. Notably, California has yet to elect a woman or an openly LGBTQ individual as governor.

Several prominent Democrats have already declared their candidacy, including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, the first to formally announce, and Tony Thurmond, the Black State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Others like former Controller Betty Yee and Attorney General Rob Bonta, of Filipino descent, are also considering bids.

Atkins’ experience, which includes a brief tenure as San Diego’s mayor and being the first woman to occupy the Legislature’s top positions – Speaker of the Assembly and President pro tempore of the Senate – positions her as a formidable candidate. In these roles, she was instrumental in negotiating eight state budgets and influencing major policy decisions.

Describing herself as “addicted to responsibility,” Atkins believes her extensive experience is a significant asset. While legislative leaders in California wield substantial power, it’s often the governor who garners the spotlight for policy achievements. Under Atkins’ leadership, the Democratic caucus in the Senate expanded to its largest majority since 1883, enabling policies to be implemented without significant Republican input. However, Atkins ensured bipartisan engagement, including Republican Leader Shannon Grove in administration briefings.

Atkins’ humble beginnings in rural southwest Virginia, where she grew up in a home without running water, deeply inform her political perspective. Her early life, marked by aspirations to move to California and her active involvement in San Diego’s political scene, paved her way into politics. Her initial political engagement included working at a women’s health clinic and supporting Christine Kehoe’s City Council campaign, eventually leading to her own political career.

Her legislative journey was not without challenges, including a competitive race for the Assembly Speaker against Anthony Rendon, followed by her election to the Senate and eventual leadership. Her collaboration with Rendon, though occasionally strained, yielded significant legislative achievements, including Medicaid expansion for all eligible adults, regardless of immigration status, and free school meals.

Atkins takes pride in her policies reflecting her upbringing, notably her role in implementing the Affordable Care Act and establishing a tax credit for low-income families. This background and her legislative victories fuel her consideration for the governorship, as she sees the potential for impactful governance from such a position.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Toni Atkins Governorship

Who is Toni Atkins and why is she significant in California politics?

Toni Atkins is a prominent political figure in California, known for being the state’s first lesbian Senate leader. She has gained attention for potentially running for governor, which, if successful, would make her the first woman and openly LGBTQ individual to hold this position in California. Atkins’ political journey is marked by her tenure as the Speaker of the State Assembly and President pro tempore of the Senate, roles in which she played a significant part in major policy decisions and budget negotiations.

What notable acts did Toni Atkins perform as acting governor of California?

As acting governor of California, Toni Atkins signed three bills into law and paid tribute to Tony Gwynn, a renowned San Diego Padres baseball player. Her role as acting governor was a result of a constitutional requirement in California that mandates the governor to appoint a temporary replacement whenever they leave the state.

What are Toni Atkins’ major political accomplishments?

Toni Atkins has a distinguished political career, including serving as Mayor of San Diego, Speaker of the California State Assembly, and President pro tempore of the State Senate. In these roles, she was instrumental in negotiating state budgets and influencing significant policy decisions. Her tenure in the Senate saw the Democratic caucus reach its largest majority since 1883, demonstrating her effective leadership.

What challenges has Toni Atkins faced in her political career?

Throughout her political career, Toni Atkins faced several challenges, including a competitive race for the position of Assembly Speaker against Anthony Rendon and the task of leading the state Senate. Despite these challenges, she successfully worked with her colleagues to pass meaningful legislation, including expanding Medicaid and providing free meals for public school students.

How does Toni Atkins’ background influence her politics?

Toni Atkins’ political views and initiatives are deeply influenced by her upbringing in rural southwest Virginia, where she experienced poverty firsthand. Her early experiences, including working at a women’s health clinic and being actively involved in local politics, shaped her commitment to policies that support low-income families and healthcare accessibility.

More about Toni Atkins Governorship

You may also like

Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News