Much to the chagrin of many state legislators, the politically divisive battle over the nomination of Santa Maria Sen. Abel Maldonado to the state’s lieutenant governorship could be waged in Sacramento for the next three months.
Backing off threats to seek a court decision supporting his choice, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Feb. 12 he would resubmit Maldonado’s name for the post, resetting a 90-day timetable for approval by the state Assembly.
The governor withdrew and resubmitted his nomination and asked the Assembly to vote again until a majority decision is reached.
The governor’s action came despite Maldonado failing to garner the 41 votes necessary for confirmation from Assembly members on Feb. 9.
Before relenting, Schwarzenegger had vowed to swear the former Santa Maria mayor in as lieutenant governor following the Assembly’s 37-35 vote, saying the tally indicated Assembly members had taken no action to disqualify the candidate. The state Senate confirmed Maldonado’s appointment by a 26-7 vote earlier that day.
Republican Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), who succeeded Maldonado as 33rd District Assemblyman, supported the governor’s move.
“The decision to avoid a costly legal battle and partisan political infighting is good for California,” Blakeslee said in a press release.
State Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) voted against Maldonado’s appointment, and instead supports leaving the post unfilled until November, after the office’s current term expires and a public vote is held. ∆