With the end of her tenure closing in at the end of 2016, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is asking Democrats to hold off on voting for a new leader until next January.
When Democrats elevated Atkins, D-San Diego, to lead the caucus in March of 2014, they did so knowing she would be in the position for a limited stretch because term limits will force her from the lower house after next year. Jockeying to succeed her began almost immediately.
A letter Atkins has circulated asks that Democratic lawmakers to commit to voting for her replacement the week of January 5, 2016, ensuring they won’t make a move until after this legislative year concludes.
Atkins asked members to sign the letter during separate meetings with her leadership team and with Speaker hopefuls.
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In an emailed statement Thursday, a spokesman for Atkins said the Democratic leader was hoping to ensure lawmakers were not distracted during the final, crucial stretch of the legislative year.
“The Speaker has a balancing act—managing the end of session crush, keeping distractions for members to a minimum, and also establishing a time frame for potential successors to mount their efforts and make their cases,” spokesman John Casey said. “Releasing the schedule now for when the caucus will vote for the next Speaker covers all those bases and ensures that the people’s business can get taken care of with the maximum attention and focus.”