‘When you have the votes, take the vote’


Going way back to the 1960’s and 70’s, it was common practice for Assembly Speakers to anticipate and prepare for mid-session plots by disgruntled members of their own caucus to oust them.

When I came to work in the Assembly in 1970, then Speaker Bob Monagan, a moderate Republican from Stockton, was so concerned about far-right extremists of the Republican Caucus hatching a coup that he appointed a handful of Democrats to committee chairmanships.

The deal was that these Democrats would not vote to replace Monagan during the session, thereby making it all but impossible for any group of GOP insurgents to find the 41 votes needed to remove a sitting speaker.

This practice served to enforce discipline within the caucus and was copied by many subsequent speakers to deter dissension within the ranks.  The recent moves by Assemblyman Rivas and his allies seems amateurish.

There is an old saying at the Capitol about speakership frays that apparently was forgotten or never learned.  “When you have the votes, take the vote.”

Parke D. Terry,

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