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AtkinsPerez.JPGAssembly Democrats will vote in their next leader on Monday.

After months of intrigue and speculation, Democrats in January removed any drama around who would replace termed-out Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez by unanimously backing Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat and the current majority floor leader.

The Monday vote represents the next step in the leadership transition. Atkins will likely take over from Pérez before June, although the exact timeline remains in flux.

"That is still to be determined," said John Casey, Atkins' chief of staff.

A former San Diego City Council member elected to the Legislature in 2010, Atkins will lead a large, but inexperienced Democratic caucus.

Democrats have a two-thirds majority allowing them to pass new taxes or enact effective-immediately "urgency" bills without Republican votes. As speaker, Atkins will direct Democratic efforts to preserve that edge come November.

Atkins will also be managing a class of relatively fresh-faced members: a majority of Democratic Assembly members are serving their first terms.

During her rise through politics, Atkins has focused on issues that include gay rights, housing development and reproductive rights.

PHOTO: Speaker John A. Pérez, and Assemblywoman Toni Atkins discuss Atkins becoming the next speaker in the State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif. on January 22, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Jeremy B. White.



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