The Uptown Democratic Club will decide Tuesday night, October 27, whether to endorse Assembly speaker Toni Atkins or state Sen. Marty Block, both Democrats, for the senate seat Block currently holds.
The endorsement was delayed at the club's last meeting, on September 22, after an Atkins campaign consultant, Laura Fink, stopped the “friendly endorsement” of Block and, once it was put over for a month, tried to write a single check for $500 for 25 new members.
Club president Howard Singer called the move "a blatant attempt to stack the deck" and accused the Atkins campaign of bullying. Calls to the campaign office did not get a response.
According to Singer, the group was headed toward a "friendly endorsement" of Block when Fink announced that Atkins was on her way to the meeting. Atkins spoke and Fink asked for the delay in endorsing, which was granted by a near unanimous vote.
"They are required to notice the membership of these endorsements two weeks before the meeting," Fink said, noting that she joined the club that night. "I raised the issue." Atkins "respectfully expressed her interest" in the club's endorsement, Fink said.
Fink acknowledges that she wrote the check for sponsored memberships for 25 people. But the club rejected the “new members” and returned the check to Atkins’s campaign. They would have had to be members for 30 days to vote on the endorsement, Fink said.
The incident is the latest in a series of local ground skirmishes between Atkins and Block. Atkins is termed out in the Assembly, and apparently wants to stay in Sacramento. Atkins comes to the fight with more than $610,00 for the current race and about $922,000 in her Assembly campaign fund, while Block has about $78,000, according to Secretary of State records.
The two are fighting over a district that includes about 928,000 people in San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar, and Solana Beach — with its highest voter turnout in 2012 at 378,000.
Block defeated George Plescia for the seat three years ago with 58 percent of the vote.
"Toni could make more money locally than in the state senate, and this has become a divisive issue — these people drink from the same well," Singer said.
Why is the endorsement so important?
"Every endorsement is important, and the Uptown Democratic Club is no exception," Fink said.
So far, Fink says, Atkins has one political club's endorsement — the San Diego Democrats for Equality.
UPDATE 10/27, 3:45 p.m.
The Uptown Democratic Club endorsed Marty Block last night 58% to 42%