Doing "a noble thing," as Stephen Birmingham wrote in his classic book, "Our Crowd – The Great Jewish Families of New York," for someone stepping aside to allow someone else to move on is "like all noble things, it was not an easy thing."
Yesterday, at the conclusion of the Senate’s fourth Session of the week, Senator Marty Block stood up to make a point of personal privilege. He announced that he would not be running for a final term, thus allowing his opponent the ability to avoid a nasty and expensive race. He wanted his Senate colleagues to hear it first.
This was Sen. Block’s seat to win and he had full support of his Democrat colleagues. But it appears that he weighed the decision and explained that it was for party unity. If this is the case, then it was a noble thing to do.
I believe that Sen. Block is a very classy guy and I enjoy working with him. I am sorry that he is concluding his career in Sacramento. I went up to him after his announcement and I teased him with a term of endearment that I give to everyone who retires or moves on, including my interns. I said "hey, quitter." Now there will be many reading this and will smile because they were or still are the recipient of this moniker when we see each other. It’s what I do.
The Sacramento Bee must have been within hearing distance, as it was included in their electronic version of the article below. The dead-tree version dropped the paragraph.
I have been through this exercise myself. I did something similar when both Mimi Walters and I were considering running for the open Orange County congressional seat. Had I stayed in that race, we would have had a bruising inter-party battle. But Mimi and I are like minded on most issues, and she had started the race much earlier than I. I was also very focused on my job as a County Supervisor. So, in the interest of party unity, I stepped aside. It was not an easy thing.
I took the time to tell Sen. Block how honored I was to work with him and shared my admiration for his professionalism. I wish him much success in the years ahead.
Marty Block will not seek re-election to California Senate
Fellow Democrat Toni Atkins challenged Block for his seat in September
Senate Democrats backed Block, but he trailed in fundraising
Block: ‘It just didn’t make sense for us to be fighting’
Averting an intraparty battle with the outgoing Assembly speaker, state Sen. Marty Block announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election.
The San Diego Democrat said there were too many similarities between him and Toni Atkins, the Assembly colleague challenging him for his seat, to justify continuing in the race.
“The more I thought about it, the more it just didn’t make sense for us to be fighting,” Block said. “We can do so much more to move our agenda forward, an agenda we share, by working together.”
It’s rare for an incumbent to be challenged by a member of their own party, but Atkins, who is termed out of the Assembly this year, announced her candidacy back in September in bombshell fashion. She said Block had promised to serve only one term in the Senate, clearing a path for her in 2016, and was reneging on their deal, a claim that Block denied.
Senate Democrats stood behind Block publicly, but his lower political profile and smaller campaign reserve made him an immediate underdog against Atkins. Block said Thursday that he and Atkins had long since moved past the controversy over the disputed deal.
In a statement, Atkins said she “was as surprised as his colleagues with Senator Block’s announcement” and “will work very hard to measure up to the standards” set by senators from the district.
Block added he felt no pressure from the party to drop out.
“I guess I’m ready,” he said. “I’m ready to go to the next thing.”
Making his announcement from the Senate floor Thursday morning, Block said he had “greatly enjoyed every moment” with his colleagues, who flooded him with hugs and well wishes.
“Hey, quitter,” Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, joked. Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, clapped Block on the back and told him, “You did a nice job. A very nice job.”
A former university professor and community college trustee, Block said he hopes to continue working on higher education policy, particularly the development of community college bachelor’s degrees, which California is now piloting because of a bill he authored in 2014. Block said he is looking at several potential career opportunities not in elected office, but could not yet discuss them publicly.
Note to Block and Gov. Jerry Brown: California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris is retiring in April.
This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.
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