Two GOP Senators Square Off Against Each Other

There’s some friction in the state Senate Republican caucus because two of its members are running for statewide office – against each other.

Sen. Sam Aanestad of Grass Valley faces Sen. Jeff Denham of Merced in the 2010 lieutenant governor primary.

Aanestad recently launched his campaign. Denham’s view is that in instances where two senators are running against each other, one should not be “favored” as he believes Aanestad is with a seat on the upper house’s powerful Rules Committee.

So Denham penned a letter seeking support from his fellow Republicans for Aanestad resigning from the committee, a move, not surprisingly, Aanestad opposes. 

In a recent meeting of the GOP caucus, Denham sought action on his request. Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta said he wanted to deal with the issue later, sources say.

Denham sought a vote to, in essence, override Hollingsworth and take up the Aanestad issue. The caucus voted 9 to 4 take the issue up, with Hollingsworth and Aanestad representing half of the “no” votes.

Then, again over the Republican leader’s objection, a vote was taken on whether Aanestad should resign from the committee. The vote was 9 to 4 in favor of Aanestad’s resignation. Despite the vote, he declined.

Nor does he need to resign, other than to avoid the ire of nine of his fellow Senate Republicans.

The four members of the Rules Committee, other than the Senate President Pro Tempore who is the chair, are elected to their posts by a vote of the full upper house.

Once a member of the Rules Committee the only way to leave it is to resign or no longer be a senator.

If a vacancy were to occur during the Legislature’s current recess, which seems unlikely given Aanestad’s reaction to the caucus vote, the remaining four Rules members choose a fifth member. When in session, election is by the whole Senate.


Filed under: Politics

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