Maldonado on Track to Become Lieutenant Governor

February 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Partisan politics is at play again in the state capitol over who is going to be second in command in the state.

With his migrant farm worker parents watching, State Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, acknowledged his humble beginnings and choked up at the start of his confirmation hearing to become California's lieutenant governor.

But the emotion stopped there. The Democratic-led Rules Committee had serious questions about why they should let a moderate Republican take an office that is just a heartbeat away from the governor's seat.

"There's no secret that I have an "R" next to my name, but on every vote that I've ever taken, I've never let that dictate how I'm going to vote," Maldonado said.

That is exactly why conservatives don't want to see his confirmation through; the central coast Latino sometimes bucked his party.

Democrats, on the other hand, have a lot to be thankful for in Maldonado because he often was their swing vote on budgets and some tax increases.

In the end, the bi-partisan committee unanimously cleared his nomination 4-0, a huge first step that takes his confirmation to the Senate floor.

"I'm just grateful for the vote they casted and now we go to the full floor, at that time, I've got my work cut out to get 21 votes," Maldonado said.

But there may be one other advantage for Democrats to confirm Maldonado, there would be the possibility of electing another Democrat to replace him.

"A lot of Senate Democrats relish the opportunity to pick up Mr. Maldonado's Senate seat; it's one step closer to the two-thirds majority they need to pass a budget," Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio said.