California’s first lesbian Senate leader could make history again if she runs for governor

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11/17/2023

The first time Toni Atkins acted as the governor of California, she used her powers to honor the passing of San Diego Padres baseball player Tony Gwynn while playfully rebuffing Jimmy Kimmel’s advice that she “ invade Oregon. ” It was 2014, and Atkins — the first lesbian to be the speaker of the state Assembly — was filling in for former Gov. Jerry Brown, a quirk of the California Constitution that requires governors to put someone else in charge whenever they leave the state. Atkins, now the president pro tempore of the state Senate, has filled in as governor a few more times since then, most recently in July when she signed three bills into law and quipped that she was thrilled to once again step into the governor’s shoes, “ although I have better shoes. ”

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