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Incumbent Toni Atkins faces challenger Linda Dealy Blankenship

Linda Blankenship and Toni Atkins are both running for state Senate in the 39th District.
(Left: Courtesy photo; Right: John Gibbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Democrat Atkins was elected to the state senate in 2016

Early results in Tuesday’s election show there likely will be no upset in the race to represent the 39th District in the state Senate.

Democrat incumbent Toni Atkins was leading by a wide margin against challenger Linda Dealy Blankenship, who entered the race as a write-in candidate in the March primary.

Blankenship had earned significantly more votes in the general election than she had in the primary, but still was trailing by a wide margin in early numbers released Tuesday.

A Carmel Valley homemaker and small-business owner, Blankenship had acknowledged she faced a tough fighttrying to unseat Atkins, who earned 63 percent of votes when she was elected to the seat in 2016.

Entering the race as a write-in candidate, Blankenship had earned only 8 percent of the votes cast in the primary, enough to get her a spot on the general election ballot.

Atkins’ advantage over her challenger includes a better-financed campaign. As of last month, Atkins had almost $400,000 in contributions this year and almost $1.6 million cash on hand. Blankenship raised just over $30,000 in contributions this year and reported $23,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 22.

Blankenship was endorsed by local and state elected Republican officials, including former Rep. Darrell Issa, retired state Sens. Mark Wyland and Joel Anderson, county Supervisors Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar and San Diego City Council members Chris Cate and Scott Sherman.

Blankenship’s website states that California’s budget is “driven and bloated by social engineering and pet projects,” and she has been critical of restrictions placed on church gatherings during the pandemic.

Atkins has said in recent interviews that the state’s action during the COVID-19 outbreak has been responsible and helped save businesses and keep people from being evicted.

Atkins was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2000, served as acting mayor after the resignation of then-Mayor Dick Murphy in 2005 and in 2010 was elected to the state Assembly. She was named speaker of the Assembly in 2014.

In 2018 she became the first woman to lead the Senate as president pro tempore.


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