| This is truly joyous news:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today said he would appoint Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado to fill the vacant lieutenant governor's job, perhaps setting off a partisan squabble over his confirmation.
Arnold announced this on the Leno show, taped earlier in Burbank, and the Gov's office confirmed it.
I am one happy camper. This is perhaps the best news progressives AND Democrats have gotten in this state all year long. I live in SD-15, and Abel Maldonado is, sadly, my State Senator. He is a joke of a Senator, a "moderate" politician when it is convenient for him, a conservative one generally speaking. He only won re-election last year because he and Don Perata cut a terrible deal in 2007, where Perata promised to stop a Democratic primary challenge in exchange for his vote on that budget deal.
But more importantly, this seat - SD-15 - is one of the two seats we need to reach 2/3rds in the State Senate. And like SD-12, it is a majority Democratic seat. The current registration numbers are 41% Dem, 34.5% Rep, and 23% DTS. Arnold Schwarzenegger has just created a huge and invaluable opening for us to break the Zombie Death Cult grip on the State Senate.
If, that is, Senate Democrats don't fuck it up:
Democrats may object to Schwarzenegger appointing a Republican to a job a Democrat was elected to perform. Moreover, two Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate are planning to run for lieutenant governor next year and may be unwilling to confirm someone who then could run against them as the incumbent.
That Senate Democrat is Dean Florez. We don't yet know if he would try and block this, but Senate Democrats would be extremely foolish if they did so. Former Assemblymember John Laird might be willing to run here in SD-15, and he can win this seat, even against a likely campaign from San Luis Obispo Republican (and Assembly Minority Leader) Sam Blakeslee. Laird is popular in the northern half of the district, and can win in the SLO/Santa Maria part of the district as well.
The highest priority for ANY Senate Democrat right now is getting to 2/3rds. Don Perata already screwed the pooch on that last year (we could have beaten Maldonado with a real Dem challenger). We cannot miss that opportunity again.
Especially since Maldonado will be a weak candidate. He enraged the right-wing with his vote for the tax increases in February, and he'll have a very difficult time winning a primary campaign against Jeff Denham and Sam Aanestad, even with the power of incumbency. If he does somehow survive the election, I have every bit of confidence that either Dean Florez or Janice Hahn can beat Maldonado in November.
We can make Monterey County ground zero in the battle for 2/3rds in the State Senate - and it's a fight we can win. Senate Democrats must keep their eye on the ball and confirm Abel Maldonado as Lieutenant Governor, a short-term price worth paying for the holy grail of 2/3rds in the State Senate.
UPDATE: Florez speaks, and it's not good:
It is especially troubling to see the Governor miss out on an opportunity to save taxpayer money by rewarding Senator Maldonado with a post that could be left open until the next election only months away.
At minimum, since the Lieutenant Governor seat was held by a Democrat, appointing a Republican to the post only complicates and heightens the partisan divide.
The Governor has put Senator Maldonado in a difficult position to say the least. I don't see the Senate confirming him.
That's really not a good thing. We need to push back, HARD, on this nonsense. Senate Democrats absolutely must confirm Maldonado. It is imperative that they do so, in order to win 2/3rds. We cannot protect one Senator at the expense of our state's future.