LOS ANGELES – The California Senate voted 19-2 on Tuesday to demand an apology from Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (search) for what many regard as an ethnic slur made against Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The vote came on a motion by state Senate GOP leader Jim Brulte (search). Nineteen Democrats did not vote on the motion, which passed by a simple majority.
During the floor debate, some Democrats faulted Davis for telling a supporter -- in a conversation he thought was private but was overheard by a reporter -- that anyone who can't pronounce California should not be governor of the state. Davis later said he was only joking.
Schwarzenegger's campaign sought an apology from Davis, as did the state GOP.
"I am not going to deny that when the governor made fun of Mr. Schwarzenegger's accent it was very, very painful, especially for someone like me who speaks with an accent," Sen. Martha Escutia (search), D-Norwalk, who voted for the motion, said on the floor.
Escutia said she would have preferred the Senate not formally seek an apology from Davis, but that the governor offer one without political coercion.
"I just hope that as politicians we can realize that in such a crazy, heated time that we are in right now in terms of the recall, we make some stupid, bonehead mistakes," Escutia said. "And that statement was sheer stupidity. And I would hope that we treat it as that -- as sheer stupidity. If I were the governor's people, I would say, 'Come on, apologize quickly, get it over with and let's get down to business.'"
Brulte told Fox News he originally asked the Senate to "condemn" Davis, but later dropped the word, seeking only an apology.
"I did it to forge a bipartisan compromise," Brulte said. "If a Republican had said this, the Democrats would have attacked relentlessly. Everyone knows that."
Brulte said he was told by the governor's office that Davis would not apologize, prompting the effort to seek an apology on the Senate floor.