| Looks to take on popular governor
by Brian Leubitz
Abel Maldonado has had a rough go over the last few years. After getting appointed to Lt. Gov., he lost to Gavin Newsom for that job, and then lost to Lois Capps for a newly drawn Congressional seat.
Yet, he still represents something different for Republicans, which keeps people intrigued. He is a Latino and offers diversity that is otherwise absent from the GOP. But perhaps more than that, he has shown a flair for the dramatic moderate. Working with his fellow dramatic moderate, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he swooped in several times to push the budget process forward. And so despite the recent losses, he gets plenty of coverage and attention.
All that makes him an intriguing candidate for the 2014 governor's race. What makes it more interesting for Maldonado is that he wouldn't have to make it through a Republican primary, a hurdle that might just be too high for a perceived moderate. The top-2 system would take care of that. Cue the whispers:
Saying he could "bring a different face" and a new Republican message to California, Maldonado told the Chronicle in an interview that he is strongly mulling the run against three term Democrat not only to strengthen the party, but also to encourage the kind of vibrant two-party political debate that makes for "a better state."
"I've been encouraged publicly, and privately," he said, to offer a challenge to Brown as the California Republican Party is in such dire straits that it appears the Democrat could easily sail to a fourth term without serious opposition.
"At this point in time, I'm seriously thinking about it," Maldonado said. "I think I need to decide sooner rather than later." (Carla Marinucci/SFGate)
Brown has one of the top two spots locked down, unless something seriously bizarre happens between now and next summer. The race for the second spot right now seems to be some third party candidates and Tim Donnelly, the minuteman leader and GOP Assemblyman who was recently cited for bringing a gun to an airport. In other words, the quest to the second spot is still wide open. Donnelly would surely draw some votes from the nativist set, but he really couldn't win a statewide election.
Brown, however, is quite popular after the success of Prop 30 and its temporary moratorium on the budget crisis. Maldonado carries a lot of baggage into any race at this point, but given the current field, he might just be the GOP's strongest candidate.