LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) –Tony Mendoza failed Tuesday in his unusual effort to regain his state Senate seat after he was forced to resign earlier this year due to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
Residents of the 32nd state Senate District actually voted twice Tuesday. They were asked first to choose from among 11 candidates to complete Mendoza’s current term, which ends in December, and then among the candidates vying fill the seat for the new term that begins in January.
Despite resigning, Mendoza was on both ballots.
In the election to fill the remainder of Mendoza’s term, Republican business owner Rita Topalian topped the 11-candidate field, but with just 25.29 percent of the vote, she was well short of the amount needed to claim the seat outright, leaving her destined for an Aug. 7 runoff with Democrat and Montebello Mayor Vanessa Delgado.
Mendoza, a Democrat from Artesia, came in third with 14.49 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning. He had been in a close battle for the second spot on that runoff ballot, but as vote-counting continued Wednesday morning, he lost ground to Delgado, who had 16.3 percent.
Meanwhile, Mendoza received far less voter support in the race for the January term. In that contest, Topalian again led the way, but Delgado slipped to third place, with Democrat Bob Archuleta claiming the second spot in the November runoff. Mendoza finished a distant fourth, with just 9.96 percent of the vote.
Mendoza served in the state Assembly from 2006-12, and was elected to the state Senate in 2014. He is a former Artesia city councilman and mayor.
In February, he resigned following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
The resignation came while the California Senate debated a resolution to expel him. No senator has been expelled since 1905.
Lawyers investigating complaints against Mendoza, who is 46 and married, found that he likely engaged in unwanted “flirtatious or sexually suggestive” behavior going back to 2006 with six women, including four subordinates, a lobbyist and a young woman in a fellowship with another lawmaker.
Several accusations against Mendoza first became public in the fall of 2017 in a report by the Sacramento Bee. Under pressure from other lawmakers, Mendoza took a leave of absence. The Senate Rules Committee suspended him in late January — days before he was set to return from leave — because the independent investigation had not yet concluded.
In November, around the time the allegations against Mendoza surfaced, the committee announced new rules on how sexual assault allegations within the Legislature would be handled. The committee said it would no longer be handling the complaints itself, but instead would bring in an independent outside legal team to investigate.
(©2018 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)