Abel Maldonado drops out of race for governor

Former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado has dropped out of this year’s gubernatorial race.

At a news conference in his hometown of Santa Maria, the Republican said that “after having traveled all over the state and giving it my all, I have concluded that now is not my time.”

“It’s time to step away for a while, and spend more time with my family and stay a little closer to home helping my community, as an active private citizen,” he said. “This by no means suggests that I am giving up, or giving in. I love my country and I love my state. But it’s just time for me, to take a break and focus more of my time on being a fulltime dad and husband.”

Maldonado has been something of a pariah within parts of the GOP, both for striking a budget deal with Democrats while serving in the state Senate and for fathering a successful ballot measure that made the top-two primary system a reality.

Perhaps as a result, Maldonado never had much success in finding financial support for his campaign. He had raised just over $314,000 and had about $44,600 as of June 30, but he also had more than $47,900 in outstanding debts, effectively leaving him in the red; he has raised only about $148,800 since then. Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown had more than $10 million banked by the middle of last year and has raised at least $6.9 million more since.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, remains in the race, and former Assistant U.S. Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari – also a Republican – is expected to enter the race soon.

UPDATE @ 11:50 A.M.: California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton issued a statement saying Maldonado “saw the writing on the wall and did the smart thing. Governor Brown, and Democratic leaders in the Legislature, delivered on their promises by stopping the cuts to education, balancing the budget and pulling California out of the economic doldrums. Californians are once more discussing investing in our future instead of cutting our way to the bottom.

“It’s no surprise that Republicans are taking a look at the landscape and deciding they don’t have much to run on,” Burton said.

UPDATE @ 2:33 P.M.: Read the more complete story here.

Read Maldonado’s complete comments as prepared, after the jump…

I want to thank you all for being here today.

I am here with my family and close friends in front of Santa Maria city hall where it all began …. I started my career in public service about 20 years ago, in this beautiful hometown of mine, first as a city councilman, and later as Mayor.

I have been on a ballot, or have campaigned for measures on the ballot, like the Open Primary and No Budget No Pay, for virtually every election cycle we have had over the last 20 years.

I remember being Mayor and setting two major goals.

Number one to have Santa Maria, recognized as an All-American City and two building a Youth Center so our kids had a place to go after school and on the weekends.

I was so proud that when I was mayor both of those goals became realities. Santa Maria was named an All-American City in 1998 and we broke ground on building the Youth Center as I left to serve in the California Assembly. And I was even more honored when my council colleges decided to name the Youth Center “Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center” when it was finally completed and opened.

As Jim said I served in the state legislature with him and followed many other great Californians. When I was in the legislature I looked at every bill the same way I looked at issues when I was a Mayor. Not with partisan eyes but doing what is best for my district and for California.

Almost a year ago, I began this journey of meeting Californians and sharing a renewed vision of California.

And for most of the last year I have campaigned aggressively for Governor of California up and down and all over this great state.

I have heard from those who work two jobs and are still behind on their bills every month and still many others who can’t find any work at all.

Too many of our schools are failing our children and many more are underfunded.

Our streets are filling daily with criminals released early, and instead of serving the time they should have they are causing new crimes.

For too many the California dream has become a California nightmare.

Believe me I have hear it every day.

I know I have the qualifications to be governor and I strongly believe I can turn California around if elected Governor.
I have the experience and the temperament. I have served at the local level and state level in both the legislative and executive branches of government.

And I know today California can do better.

But after having traveled all over the state and giving it my all…

I have concluded ….that now, is not my time.

It’s time to step away for a while, and spend more time with my family and stay a little closer to home helping my community, as an active private citizen.

This by no means suggests that I am giving up, or giving in. I love my country and I love my state.

But it’s just time for me, to take a break – and focus more of my time on being a fulltime dad and husband.

I know it’s cliché to say I am not running so I can spend more time with my family. Everybody says that. But the truth is, that is, a major factor in my decision today.

I have missed some birthdays, family holidays and even anniversaries. Laura and the children have never complained. And they have even given their time to help campaign for me over the years.

Going forward, I plan, to not miss, any more games, birthdays, family activities and events.

I want to focus my time, with my family on the ranch, helping my daughter with the new family wine business of great pinot noir and chardonnay labeled Runway, and spending more quality time, with the woman I meet, in a Santa Maria shoe store, 26 years ago, and fell in love with, and today, love more now than ever, my beautiful wife Laura.

Laura has been the rock of this family, being a super mom, while I have been away, for 20 years in public service.

Laura has raised our four beautiful children. She has been my greatest partner-supporter -and friend. She always stood by me and I love her so much. From this day forward Laura now controls my schedule.

Before I take any questions I need to first thank some folks.

I want to thank Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for appointing me to serve with him as Lt. Governor of California and trusting me to lead this state on the many days while he was out of state and out of country promoting and representing California. I was honored to have served the people of California as its 47th Lt. Governor.

I want to thank the people of San Bruno – who in the mist of their greatest tragedy, and my greatest challenge in political leadership, gave me, the inner strength to lead, during that difficult time after the explosion that took 8 lives and forever changed the lives of all those who live in San Bruno. During those difficult days, it was the people of San Bruno who after the tragedy, showed me, so many amazing examples of human resolve, compassion, and strength. The people of San Bruno will always hold a special place in my heart and I will never forget them.

I want to thank the citizens of the 15th Senatorial district and 33rdAssembly District who put their faith and confidence in me during the 11 years I had the honor to represent them in the state legislature.

I want to thank the citizens of Santa Maria where my career in public service all began. In 1994, they elected a son of migrate field workers to serve on city council and 2 years later elected me as their youngest mayor.

And I also want to thank three great statesman, and excellent role models for me, during my 20 years of public service. Two of them are here with us today. Brooks Firestone and Jim Cunneen, and the another, I spoke with this morning Bruce McPherson.

All of them, always put the people, and doing what is right, before party or anything else. They are true role models of great statesman and public servants, and I am proud and honored to call them all …my friends.

And finally I also just want to thank my family and my friends. My mother and father who taught me hard work and responsibility.

Without your love and support this ride of public service I have been for over 20 years would never have been possible.

Thank you all and God bless.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.