Why the senate suspension vote was only 28-1

A caller left me a voice mail this morning noting that we’ve not reported why several state senators didn’t cast votes in Friday’s roll call on suspending the three Democrats who’ve run afoul of the law.

The vote was 28-1 in favor of suspension; the lone dissenter, Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, believed suspension was too light a reaction and expulsion would be more appropriate.

The senate has 40 seats, one of which (the 23rd District) currently is vacant. And naturally, the three senators being suspended – Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; Ron Calderon, D-Montebello; and Rod Wright, D-Inglewood – weren’t there to vote.

So that leaves seven. Of those, six – Marty Block, D-San Diego; Mark Leno, D-San Francisco; Richard Roth, D-Riverside; Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas; Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto; and Andy Vidak, R-Hanford – had excused absences for previously scheduled commitments and were not in Sacramento.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-South Los Angeles, is the only senator who was present but didn’t vote.

“She felt that the motion should have been divided so that each case was considered separately, so they could debate the merits and the ground for each case,” Mitchell spokesman Charles Stewart said Monday. “But there was not the mood or the votes to sever the issue.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Willis James

    Oh, did we mention that the only senator present that did not vote, is also a individual who provided a large amount of money to Senator Rod Wright’s Legal Defense Fund.

    Yes, State Senator Holly Mitchell gave $5,000 to Rod Wright’s defense fund. Transacation # 1776896-INC149

    She did so in 2013… just as Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg also contributed thousands and thousands to defend Sen. Rod Wright.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    The State Senate, a.k.a. The Ship of Fools, can’t save its rear by punishing a few transgressors. It has been a long, long time since that august body has accomplished anything voters should be grateful for, let alone remember.

  • JohnW

    Willie Brown had some comments Sunday on why they voted to “suspend” rather than “expel.” Expulsion, according to him, would mean long public hearings and bring to light some things that would make other senators sweat.