An Open Letter to the California Senate Democratic Caucus

Dear fellow Democrats,

Your most important task right now – above all others – is to solve California’s political and economic crisis. And as your own leader explained, at the heart of that crisis is the undemocratic rule creating a conservative veto over all state policy via the 2/3rds rule.

Therefore, in order to deal with that task, your highest electoral priority is to win a 2/3rds majority in the State Senate. The party a clear majority of Californians have asked govern this state – the Democratic Party – should be able to govern this state and lead us out of the worst crisis we’ve faced in decades, if not longer.

Without a 2/3rds majority, California faces deeper budget cuts that will produce very real suffering for many of your constituents. In addition, the ongoing budget crisis continues to give Republicans an opportunity to reverse recent Democratic gains, which at some point may include the State Senate itself. Those factors should be enough to convince you that when you have an opportunity to win a 2/3rds majority, you should take it.

Especially when this year you have seen the fruits of not having a 2/3rds majority – and the fruit of cutting a bad, self-defeating political deal involving the same Abel Maldonado.

When your previous leader, Don Perata, agreed to prevent a Democrat from launching a meaningful challenge to Maldonado in the 15th State Senate district, not only were Central Coast Democrats denied a realistic chance to be represented in Sacramento, but a golden opportunity to get to the 2/3rds mark in the Senate was lost. After all, the most recent registration numbers show that SD-15 is a blue district, with 41% Dems, 34.5% Reps, and 23% DTS. It is a district Obama won by over 20 points.

It is a district that, because of Don Perata’s deal, sent Abel Maldonado back to Sacramento without a real reelection fight. Once there, Maldonado used his role as a deal-maker to force through a major change in how state elections work in the form of the top two primary. Most of you don’t like it, and are going to try and defeat it, and if it passes it’s going to seriously screw with your future plans.

But it, and other bad deals, are constantly coming your way because you don’t have a 2/3rds majority.

2010 offers an invaluable opportunity for you to finally reach 2/3rds. Of the key State Senate races next year, the only seat you have a chance of flipping from red to blue is SD-12. Anna Caballero is going to run a great campaign and win that seat. But unless you can find another seat to add to her victory and bring us to 2/3rds, nothing will change.

That is, unless you vote to confirm Abel Maldonado, and put SD-15 into play. Sure, you could wait until 2012 when the seat comes open – but by then legislative districts will have been drawn by the Prop 11 commission, and who knows what the landscape will look like. Why pass up an opportunity to have a Democratic governor and 2/3rds in the Senate – especially when we can find 3 seats to pick up in the Assembly?

Now, some may complain about giving Abel Maldonado a leg up on the competition. This is a ridiculous consideration for two reasons. First, even if it were true, it’s a price well worth paying to get to 2/3rds, which is after all your top priority.

Second, even a cursory glance at the politics shows Maldonado will not be much of a threat, and should be easily defeated by a Democrat next fall. In case you’ve forgotten, he is hated by the Republican base for his February budget vote. Those people have long memories. Even before that vote he was having trouble winning primaries thanks to the fundamental and deeply-seeded racism of the California Republican electorate.

Even if Maldonado somehow staggers through the primary, he will be bloodied and bruised, and quite a bit poorer for the effort. We are confident that either Dean Florez or Janice Hahn will be able to defeat him in the general election.

Calitics has been a strong critic of Abel Maldonado. He is certainly not our first, second, or seventy-third choice for the Lt. Gov. office. But we are willing to swallow it for the greater good. You need to do so as well.

There is no credible reason to refuse to confirm Maldonado. The only reason you would be doing so is by placing the ambitions of other Senators above your own, and above the needs of a state facing a crisis so deep and so crippling that it threatens much more than Republican control of the Lt. Gov. office.

We need a party and a Senate Democratic caucus that is aggressive, assertive, bold, and confident in its ability to lead California out of the crisis. If you refuse to confirm Abel Maldonado, you would be showing Californians that you in fact lack that confidence.

We don’t know how much clearer we can make it. If you refuse to confirm Abel Maldonado as Lieutenant Governor for any reason other than incompetence or ethical misdeeds that make him unfit to serve, then you are abandoning your obligations to California Democrats and to the people of this state.

12 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the California Senate Democratic Caucus”

  1. If petty political ambition to hold a largely powerless office is allowed to outweigh the 2/3 potential in the Senate, how on earth do we turn out the vote in an off year election?

    What inspiring words will we have for the Democratic base?

  2. Surely folks should see their greater interest in moving Maldonado. Hold the other seats, add #12, and you have 2/3. (Sounds easy!)

    But there’s big-time defense necessary in the Asm and adding 3… well… worth a shot.

    Take your 2/3 where you can get it. One issue: succeed in the senate only and the Asm R’s will be the most powerful people in Sacramento.

  3. According to this article, the reason they are nervous about running in SD-15 is because of the election results in Virginia and New Jersey.

    I guess Garamendi’s win right next door doesn’t mean anything to them. Also note how that article calls the Dem registration advantage “slight.” 6 points is slight? That’s covering up for failure.

    I can’t believe they think Corzine and Deeds have anything to do with this. If anything, I’d say the NY-23 is the most relevant parallel.

  4. Thanks for taking the leadership on this. I will contact my Senator, Loni Hancock, and ask her to vote to confirm Maldonado.

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