Home -> James H. Barry Press -> Story of the Session of the California Legislature of 1909 -> Chapter 27

Previous Page Home Up One Level Next Page

Chapter XXVII.

The Retiring Senators.

Of the Twenty Whose Terms of Office Will Have Expired, the Machine Loses Eleven, the Anti-Machine Element Seven - Two Who Voted With the Machine on Occasion Were Usually on the Side of Good Government.

Twenty of the forty Senators who sat in the Legislature of 1909, must, if they sit in the Legislature of 1911, be re-elected at the general elections in November 1910. They are: Senators Anthony of San Francisco, Bates of Alameda, Bell of Pasadena, Black of Santa Clara, Boynton of Yuba, Caminetti of Amador, Cartwright of Fresno, Curtin of Tuolumne, Hartman of San Francisco, Kennedy of San Francisco, Leavitt of Alameda, McCartney of Los Angeles, Miller of Kern, Price of Sonoma, Reily of San Francisco, Sanford of Mendocino, Savage of Los Angeles, Weed of Siskiyou, Willis of San Bernardino and Wright of San Diego.

By consulting Table A of the Appendix, it will be seen that on sixteen roll calls the forty members of the Senate of 1909 voted 570 times. Of the 570 votes 311 were cast against what are regarded as machine policies; 259 for such policies. Of the 311 anti-machine votes, 164 were cast by holdover Senators, and were considered in the last chapter, while 147 were cast by Senators whose successors will be elected in 1910. Thus it will be seen, that on this basis, more desirable Senators will hold over than those whose terms of office will have expired before the next Legislature convenes.

On the basis of the machine votes the result is as satisfactory. On the sixteen roll calls, 259 machine votes were cast. Of these 140 were cast by the retiring Senators, and only 119 by those who will hold over, and who will sit in the Legislature of 1911. So, on the whole, the machine loses and the people gain in the retirement of the twenty Senators.

In point of numbers the result is as satisfactory. The machine will lose eleven Senators: Bates, Hartman, Kennedy, Leavitt, McCartney, Price, Reily, Savage, Weed, Willis and Wright; while the anti-machine forces will lose only seven who can be counted constantly for reform policies: Bell, Black, Boynton, Caminetti, Cartwright, Miller and Sanford.

This leaves only Anthony and Curtin to be accounted for. Both these men stood out against the machine's amendments to the Direct Primary bill, Anthony in particular standing against the severest pressure that could be brought to compel him to vote against the interests of his constituents and of the State. But Anthony could not be moved. On the railroad measures, however, Anthony voted with the machine. But he voted for the Walker-Otis bill, and, generally speaking, for all measures which made for political reforms. With any sort of organization of the reform forces, Anthony could be counted upon as safe for reform. His record on the Direct Primary bill certainly entitles him to the highest consideration.

Curtin also was as a general thing with the reform element. He voted, however, against the bill to do away with the party circle and he voted against the Local Option bill, but in so doing he merely followed the lead of such men as Birdsall, who, while out and out against the machine, were at the same time against local option and lukewarm on ballot reform. Birdsall, however, finally voted for the bill to remove the party circle from the election ballot, although he had on the first ballot voted against the bill. Curtin did not, however, change his vote. But Curtin did vote against the Initiative Amendment. On the other hand, Curtin's record on the Direct Primary bill, on the Railroad Regulation bills, and on the Anti-Gambling bill is all that could be desired.

While the retirement of all the Senators who do not hold over would strengthen the reform element in the Senate, nevertheless the State can ill afford to lose the services of the seven who stood out so valiantly against machine policies. Senator Bell heads the list, with Caminetti, Black, Boynton and Sanford close seconds.

Senator Bell not only made the best record made in the Senate of 1909, but he made the best record of the Senate of 1907. Conscientious, fully awake to the responsibilities of his position, alive to the tricks of the machine leaders, in constant attendance, Senator Bell proved himself during the two sessions that he has served in the Senate, a power for good government. His absence from the session of 1911 would be a loss to the State.

Senators Black and Boynton at the session of 1909 made records quite as good as that made by Senator Bell. On the sixteen roll calls taken as tests of the standing of the several Senators, Black voted but once against reform policies. On the first ballot on the Party Circle bill he voted against the measure, but the day following, corrected his mistake by voting for the measure. Boynton voted to return the Local Option bill to the Judiciary Committee, but at the final test his vote was recorded for the bill[103a]. Thus neither of the two Senators can be said to have voted with the machine even on comparatively unimportant issues.

Senator Caminetti probably gave the machine more worry during the session than any other one Senator. Caminetti has, a way of saying out loud what his anti-machine associates are thinking, which is not at all popular with the machine. True to principle, he, a Democrat, voted for United States Senator Perkins because, from Caminetti's view-point, no other candidate came so near to being the popular choice of the people as Perkins, and Caminetti holds that the people and not the Legislature should select the United States Senator. The machine was glad of Caminetti's vote for Perkins, but was not at all pleased with the departure of a Democrat voting for a Republican. Caminetti's course continued in by all the members of the Legislature, and the machine would lose its monopoly of Federal Senator-making.

Caminetti's record is admirable. To be sure, he opposed Local Option, but he fought as few others fought for an effective Direct Primary law, for effective railroad regulation, in fact for practically all the reform policies which the anti-machine forces advocated and the machine opposed. Senator Sanford also voted for and worked for reform policies. Like Caminetti, however, he opposed the Local Option bill and voted against it. Senator Miller, on the other hand, supported the Local Option bill, but slipped more seriously than did either Caminetti or Sanford, by voting with the machine Senators against the Initiative amendment. Miller's work for effective railroad regulation and for an effective Direct Primary law, won him the deserved admiration and confidence of the better element of the Legislature. Senator Cartwright voted but twelve times on the sixteen roll calls, but the twelve included the votes on the Direct Primary issues, on railroad regulation, and on all the moral issues considered. And each time, Senator Cartwright's vote was cast on the side of good government.

On the other side, the machine side, Senator Bates distinguished himself but once during the session. It was Senator Bates who, to oblige a friend, had the notorious Change of Venue bill placed on the Special Urgency File, thus making the passage of the bill possible. Senator Bates' vote and influence - such as it was - were thrown in the balance against giving the people of California a State-wide vote - the only practical vote - for United States Senators. He voted against the effective Stetson bill; he voted for the ineffective Railroad Regulation bill. In fact, aside from the Walker-Otis bill, Bates was on the machine side of practically every issue[104].

Senator Hartman was during the session a mere machine vote. He was always on hand, always voted, and voted with the machine. It was Senator Hartman who named an employee of the notorious Sausalito gambling rooms for an important committee clerkship. So far as the writer can recall, Hartman made but two speeches during the session; one against the Walker-Otis Anti-Gambling bill, one against the Islais Creek Harbor bill, the passage of which meant so much for San Francisco, the city, by the way, responsible for Hartman's presence at Sacramento.

On the sixteen roll calls under consideration, Hartman voted sixteen times for machine policies. As a vote, Hartman is a valuable machine asset; otherwise a nonentity.

Those who have read the previous chapters have already formed their opinion of the advisability of returning to the Senate, Kennedy, the hero of the passage of the Change of Venue bill; McCartney, the author of the famous amendment to the Direct Primary bill; Weed, who introduced the resolution to drag Senator Black from his sick bed at Palo Alto; Reily, who with Senator Hartman, alone of all the Senate stood out against the passage of the Islais Creek Harbor bills; Willis, who as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, backed such measures as the Change of Venue bill, and opposed such measures as the Commonwealth Club bills; Savage, who in committee and out of it, opposed the State-wide vote plan for nominating United States Senators, and Senator Price.

Price did not distinguish himself particularly. On the sixteen roll calls included in Table A, his vote was recorded against the machine as many as four times. But there were ten Senators who did even worse. However, a story of the closing days of the session is quite characteristic of Senator Price.

An important roll call was on - if the writer remembers correctly, it was on Burnett's motion to continue the investigation into the causes of the increase of freight and express rates. Price was present, but did not answer to the call of his name. The advocates of the resolution insisted that all vote, and demanded a call of the Senate. The doors were ordered closed, at which order Price made a run for the door. Caminetti saw the move, understood it and started to intercept the fleeing Senator. But if Caminetti were quick, Price was quicker. Caminetti missed his grab at Price, and so chased that gentleman to the door of the Senate chamber. The assistant Sergeant-at-Arms at the door was just swinging it closed as Price shot through. The determined Caminetti made a last grab at Price's coattails, but too late. The massive doors banged closed, with Price, coattails and all, on the outside, and the balked Caminetti on the inside. Price didn't vote on that roll call.

The failure to return Leavitt to the Senate will be a decided loss for the machine, one hard to offset. Next to Wolfe, Leavitt was by far the ablest floor leader in the Senate. The brute force of the man, his grossness, his indifference to public opinion, made him an ideal machine leader. Leavitt's return from Alameda seems extremely doubtful. His district takes in the notorious gambling community, Emeryville, which will be purged of the thug element that has dominated it, by the enforcement of the Walker-Otis law. With the loss of this portion of his constituency, Senator Leavitt's chance of re-election from Emeryville appears slim indeed.

But, according to rather persistent rumor, Senator Leavitt may be returned to the Senate, not from Alameda, but from the Siskiyou-Shasta District, the district represented by Weed. Leavitt has property up there, and the story runs that he will be a candidate from that part of the State. The voters of Shasta and Siskiyou, however, may conclude that they have something to say about it.

Senator Wright, the last of the Senators whose terms will have expired before the next session of the Legislature convenes, is being mentioned as a "reform candidate" for Governor. The idea seems to be that he will run on his record made at the session of 1909. If this be true, he may not be a candidate for re-election to the Senate. Senator Wright's record as a State Senator has already been treated at length.

[103a] Senator Boynton was a consistent supporter of the Local Option bill from the beginning to the end of the session. He held, however, that the bill as originally drawn was not in proper form, and explained that he voted to have the bill returned to the committee that amendments, which he deemed necessary, could be made.

[104] Since the Legislature adjourned Senator Bates has been given a lucrative position in the United States Mint.

Previous Page Home Up One Level Next Page