Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Meanwhile, Maldonado—with help from Governor Schwarzenegger—was doing some last minute campaigning for the job.
"I really believe I can help a lot of people," Maldonado said at a telephone news conference called by the governor's office on the eve of the hearing. "I want to be the promoter-in-chief to bring jobs to California."
But the state senator, who represents coastal Monterey County faces determined opposition. Many Democrats think one of their own deserves the office that Democrat John Garamendi won in an election, and some Republicans are unhappy with Maldonado since he crossed party lines to break last year's budget deadlock. Also unhappily for some Republicans, the moderate Maldonado would enjoy the advantage of incumbency in a likely Republican primary against the more conservative Sam Aanestad, who's announced he'll run for the seat.
Still Maldonado could get the nod if Democratic party leaders think a Democrat could win the seat. Former Assemblyman John Laird, a Santa Cruz Democrat says he's ready to make the race; he'd likely face Republican Assembly Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee in November. But he says he thinks Maldonado could pass the Senate only to be rejected in the Assembly.
"It's in Abel's hands.He has to commit to not change his position on off-shore drilling, and commit to work on mid-year budget cuts," Laird says.
As Lieutenant Governor, Maldonado would be part of the three-member State Lands Commission, which defeated a proposal to drill for oil off the Santa Barbara coast last year on a three to two vote.
Legislators are working on a tight timeline. They have to act by Feb. 16 if the 15th district senatorial election is to take place at the same time as the June primary - something Democratic Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg has insisted on as a cost-saving measure.
If legislators take no action by Feb. 22, Maldonado automatically takes the Lieutenant Governor's seat. He is widely believed to have an eye on the governor's office, but says he is focused on his current battle.