Toni Atkins will be first woman to lead California Senate

Atkins To Replace De León, Become First Female Senate President Pro Tem

Atkins To Replace De León, Become First Female Senate President Pro Tem

De León is termed out at the end of 2018 and is mounting a campaign for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

Her communications director, David Rolland, told NBC 7 the formal election will be held in January, before the start of the two-year session.

"Today, I am humbled by the trust my colleagues have placed in me, and I intend to earn that trust every day by working tirelessly and inclusively to keep California a place of opportunity for everyone", Atkins said.

"Given our national divisions, California's example is more important than ever - and I look forward to working with our President pro Tem and all of our colleagues to ensure that the Senate continues to rise together to meet the challenges faced by the great people we represent".

De Leon was the first Latino in more than a century to lead a California legislative chamber.

Atkins, 55, was Assembly speaker from May, 2014 to March, 2016, during which time she co-authored a $7.5 billion water bond approved both by the legislature and voters. Democrats are planning for it to be Senator Toni Atkins of San Diego, a former Assembly speaker. She served as acting mayor for several months during the pension crisis that erupted in 2005.