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Today in the Democratic AG primary race

Three of the six Democrats vying for California Attorney General had news to report today.

Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, led a news conference with other Assembly Democrats this morning in Sacramento asking their colleagues to vote against confirming state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, for lieutenant governor. Nava said a look at Maldonado’s record shows that “99.9 percent of the time he has not stood with the everyday working men and women of this state who are struggling to raise their families.” (Meanwhile, the California Republican Assembly – the GOP’s conservative grassroots – sent out a release this morning also urging that Maldonado be rejected, claiming he “has not exhibited the honor, integrity or principles that merit support for this position. A confirmation would provide a stark contrast of the disconnect between the elitists and the Tea Party movement.”)

Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, was promoted today to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Lieu, who has served for 15 years, is a military prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

And former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly announced today that veteran campaign strategist Robin Swanson is joining his campaign as communications director. Swanson’s resume includes several Legislative races as well as state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell’s 2002 win.

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Attorney General, Chris Kelly, Pedro Nava, Ted Lieu | No Comments »

This Week: Is Abel able?, and, ‘Big Papi’

I was on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California” last night to talk about the Machiavellian machinations behind choosing the next Lieutenant Governor and the next Assembly Speaker.

I didn’t have time for a Perez-related anecdote. At least one prominent Democratic strategist shopped around the idea this week that – just as renowned former Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh was nicknamed “Big Daddy” – a successful Perez speakership could earn him the moniker “Big Papi.” Perez is allegedly cool with the idea.

Click here for the whole episode, including an interview with Booker Daniels from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding World AIDS Day, as well as an interview with Al Gore.

Posted on Saturday, December 5th, 2009
Under: Abel Maldonado, Assembly, John Perez, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

We have a new lieutenant governor

Abel MaldonadoGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has named state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, to serve as Lieutenant Governor, now that Democrat John Garamendi has won election to the House in the 10th Congressional District.

“Senator Maldonado has proven he has the strength and courage it takes to reach across the partisan divide and put the interests of Californians first and he is absolutely the most qualified person to take on the role of Lieutenant Governor,” Schwarzenegger said in his news release. “Senator Maldonado shares my commitment to creating a transparent, accountable government that works for the people. He will be a true partner in solving the critical issues facing our state and building a stronger future for California.”

“Like the Governor, I learned the values of hard work, dedication and personal responsibility at a young age and place a high priority on reforming California’s broken government so that it is more responsive to and reflective of California’s diverse population,” Maldonado said in the same release. “I’m honored to take on the position of Lieutenant Governor and I look forward to working with the Governor to tackle important issues facing California and to ensure all Californians have the opportunity to realize their own American Dream.”

The appointment requires Senate and Assembly confirmation; the lieutenant governor is paid $159,134 per year.

Maldonado, 42, has represented the 15th State Senate District since 2004, and before that, the 33rd Assembly District from 1998 to 2004; he was Santa Maria’s youngest and first Latino mayor from 1996 to 1998 and a city council member for two years before that. He attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he completed coursework in crop science.

This year, he used his precious Republican vote on a budget agreement to exact a promise from the Democratic majority to put an “open primary” ballot measure before voters next year.

Maldonado in 2006 – after his bid for state Controller ended with a primary loss to the more conservative Tony Strickland – had knocked Schwarzenegger for not doing more to support his moderate candidacy.

“Our governor cares about one thing only, and that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Maldonado told the Los Angeles Times, also knocking the governor’s track record on Latino issues. “When he needs Latinos, Latinos are always there for him. When Latinos need him, the answer’s been no.”

But Maldonado issued a public apology after that, and it surely seems they’ve patched things up.

Meanwhile, progressive Dems are already making plans for how to win the 15th State Senate District. And how are Republicans Sam Aanestad and Jeff Denham, already campaigning for the lieutenant governor’s office, feeling about the possibility of facing a Republican incumbent? Let’s wait and see…

UPDATE @ 6:02 P.M.: I spoke a few minutes ago with Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, who said he has known Maldonado since the day they both entered the Legislature 11 years ago.

“I have to offer him my congratulations, but unfortunately it makes my resolve to win the Republican primary even more firm,” he told me. “I think people are very tired of business as usual, and this represents business as usual with this governor, who is rewarding someone who in my opinion has shown for 11 years a lack of political principles, he has wavered all over the place.”

Maldonado’s budget votes, raising taxes he’d pledged not to raise, will doom him in the GOP’s eyes, Aanestad predicted. “I welcome the debate but I will be running in the Republican primary and I expect the base of this party will reject Abel and his history and will not select him as their standard-bearer in the lieutenant governor’s race.”

Along the same lines, Denham’s camp just issued this statement:

“I anticipate a rigorous confirmation process for this appointment and potentially an even more rigorous Republican primary for Lt. Governor. It is difficult to see how a candidate who has voted for a massive tax increase could possibly win a statewide Republican primary.”

And, jeez, aren’t we all going to miss it when Schwarzenegger is no longer governor and major announcements on California’s highest elected offices are no longer made on “The Jay Leno Show?” Read the transcript of how it went down, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009
Under: Abel Maldonado, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lt. Governor | 9 Comments »

State Senator, Controller in cost-cuts catfight

State Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, issued a scathing news release today accusing State Controller John Chiang of requesting $2 million in new furniture for his staff in the past seven months.

“How can the controller justify this action? People are hurting in this state. The Legislature is trying to fix a $42 billion deficit, which the controller reminds us grows larger every day. And yet the controller, who is responsible for our money, feels it is acceptable to take more unnecessary funding for his own office. I can’t even express my disgust with this behavior,” Maldonado wrote.

“Where are Chiang’s priorities? How can he say to the media that we’re out of money and he has to issue IOUs but behind closed doors buy new furniture for his office? Chiang needs a reality check. We should be putting the needs of our constituents first, not the need for nicer offices.

Chiang’s office fired back that Maldonado’s claims are “pathetic.” Had the lawmaker done his homework, the controller’s office said, he’d know that the office expansion project requiring this furniture was begun before Chiang took office, and that he already has cut its cost by more than half yet still will bring his staff’s offices into compliance with workplace safety and disability laws.

“We would urge the Senator to check his math, stop grand-standing and get back to work on negotiating a solution to the State’s $42 billion budget gap, and the lack of money to fund programs Californians depend on their legislators to provide,” Chiang’s release said.

Read both their statements in their entirety, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
Under: Abel Maldonado, California State Senate, General, John Chiang, state budget | 2 Comments »