A conservative group is calling Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the Republican nominee to keep the job come November, “incompetent and dangerous” given his refusal to mount a legal defense of Proposition 8’s same-sex marriage ban while the governor is gone.
The Capitol Resource Institute, a Sacramento-based conservative advocacy group, issued a news release last Friday saying conservative leaders led by former Republican attorney general candidate John Eastman had asked to meet with Maldonado to discuss the issue.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown have declined to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the November 2008 measure that amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. A federal judge has deemed the measure unconstitutional, and arguments have ensued about whether Prop. 8’s proponents – who were allowed to intervene in the trial to defend the measure – now have standing to appeal the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“But Abel Maldonado is a supporter of Proposition 8 and hopefully more willing to honor the obligations of his office than the current Attorney General has been” Eastman said in Friday’s release. “Importantly, while the Governor is traveling outside of the State, all of the rights and responsibilities of the office of Governor rest with Mr. Maldonado.”
The CRI posted Maldonado’s office and campaign numbers on its website so supporters could call and urge him to file an appeal defending Prop. 8. Monday was the deadline for doing so, and the deadline came and went without any state action.
Today, the CRI issued a release saying Maldonado was challenged today on Eric Hogue’s KTKZ radio show as to his refusal to act on Proposition 8; Maldonado apparently said he’d been unable to deal with the appeal issue due to being consumed with the San Bruno disaster. Later in the interview, he indicated his inaction may have been more intentional, explaining he has a partnership with the Governor.
“We certainly appreciate the attention that Mr. Maldonado paid to San Bruno, but we will not allow him to exploit that disaster as an excuse for ignoring the necessary filing of this appeal,” CRI executive director Karen England said in the release. “The requests for the Lieutenant Governor to sign this appeal began prior to the San Bruno incident and were repeated with intensity for several days after the explosion.”
Eastman had prepared the necessary paperwork for Maldonado to file the appeal; all Maldonado had to do was pull the trigger, the release said. Said England:
“Let me be candid. Maldonado is incompetent and disingenuous if he says he could not find a few minutes to approve this filing in his first five days as acting governor. For several days his staff indicated they would call back with an answer and the Lieutenant Governor complained that the pressure from the public was so intense on Monday that they could not use their phone system. He could have freed those phones up immediately by giving the go ahead.”
“The Lieutenant governor position is the warm-up position for our next governor. Four or eight years from now conservatives will be looking for a candidate for governor. I know we do not want Maldonado on that list. For now, we believe that Maldonado should refrain from saying he is a supporter of Proposition 8. If he could not be bothered to assure that the initiative received a proper hearing in the courts, then he should not exploit the issue by claiming he backed the measure.”
Legally speaking, woe is the lieutenant governor who litigates on his own and then leaves the governor and attorney general to file follow-up paperwork. He’d be burning a lot of bridges, including the one that got him into office, for a ploy that wouldn’t gey far at all.
Politically speaking, it would’ve been electoral suicide for Maldonado to act on his own – or the CRI’s – initiative on Prop. 8 while Schwarzenegger was overseas. Maldonado is doing all he can right now to appear moderate in order to attract decline-to-state and crossover Democratic voters in his general-election showdown with Democratic nominee San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Appeasing the GOP’s most conservative edges won’t do him a lot of good come November. If Eastman’s ideology, including his same-sex marriage stance, was so popular with his own party, why’d he get creamed by Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley in the GOP primary for Attorney General?