We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 
 We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 

Atkins To Replace De León, Become First Female Senate President Pro Tem

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Toni Atkins is sworn in as California Assembly Speaker May 12, 2014.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Senate Democrats have chosen a new leader, the first woman to ever lead the chamber.

State Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) will replace Kevin de León as Senate president pro Tem, with a formal vote in January and a transition later next year. De León is termed out at the end of 2018 and is mounting a campaign for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

The selection of Atkins breaks ground in several ways:

  • Atkins is first female California Senate President pro Tem
  • She’s the first openly gay Senate leader
  • According to legislative historian Alex Vassar, she’s the first former Assembly speaker to lead the Senate in more than 150 years – the third overall
  • She’s also the first San Diego senator to lead the chamber in nearly 40 years

Atkins’s signature issue in the Legislature has been affordable housing. She’s also a co-author of the single-payer health care bill that passed the Senate last year before stalling in the Assembly.

In a statement, Atkins said she’s humbled by her colleagues’ support and will work, quote – “tirelessly and inclusively to keep California a place of opportunity for everyone.”

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

Sign up for ReCap

and never miss the top stories

Delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

Check out a sample ReCap newsletter.