John Burton Comes Out Against Maldonado Confirmation

Putting concern over a relatively insignificant office over the extremely significant 2/3rds majority in the State Senate, CDP Chair John Burton opposes Maldonado’s confirmation as Lt. Gov.:

“Why should they give the job to a Republican — when there hasn’t been a Lt. Gov. who’s been a Republican since Mike Curb in 1978,” said Burton, whose own history as a powerful State Senate Pro Tem — and his current control of party money as the Dem leader in CA — could give him clout with state lawmakers on the matter. “Why give his seat to another party?”

“They’ll vote him down,” Burton predicted confidently….

“There’s a reason why some people are Democrats, and some are Republicans,” he said. “And Democrats don’t vote for Republicans.”

Of course, in this case, Democrats don’t actually have to vote for Republicans. They can do nothing. Maldonado would become Lt. Gov. and serve for a few insignificant months while either Dean Florez or Janice Hahn mobilize around the state to defeat him.

Meanwhile, Democrats here on the Central Coast organize to send either John Laird or Bill Monning to the State Senate to replace Maldonado, combining with a Democratic victory later in the year in SD-12 to reclaim two Democratic districts and attain 2/3rds in the Senate.

As a member of my county’s Democratic Central Committee, as well as a member of the California Democratic Party Executive Board, this strikes me as a favorable deal for the Democratic Party. Dems don’t actually have to vote for Maldonado, and can continue to rail against him and his right-wing views. Meanwhile, we do the on-the-ground work that Dems can and should do to win the Lt. Gov. office as well as 2/3rds in the Senate.

Ultimately, if we have to weigh the considerations against each other, it is far more important for Democrats to have 2/3rds than to have the Lt. Gov. office. The state legislature is at the center of Democratic fortunes in this state. Because it has been in Democratic hands for nearly 40 years, it is seen as the most obvious model of what the Democratic Party stands for and can accomplish in California.

If the Democratic majority is unable to implement its vision because they lack a 2/3rds majority, then that makes Democrats look weak and ineffective. This is particularly the case with a Democratic governor. One of the things that led to Gray Davis’s recall in 2003 was the inability of the Legislature to agree on a budget, making Davis look like a weak leader.

Democrats need to think like a party and a movement – and not like an organization dedicated to advancing the career of any single individual. The California Democratic Party is stronger by stepping out of the way of Maldonado’s confirmation and instead focusing on making the case to California’s voters, whether here on the Central Coast or statewide, as to why Democrats deserve votes instead of acting like those votes, or any particular office, belong to us by divine right.

24 thoughts on “John Burton Comes Out Against Maldonado Confirmation”

  1. John Laird and Bill Monning? Really? Wow. Those guys have been in office down there or running for office or whatever for like, EVER. God I remember when Monning ran for Congress in 1993.

  2. I just don’t get why my fellow progressives are so gung ho for a Maldo confirmation? His Senate Seat- assuming we win it, doesn’t get us 2/3rd in the Senate- closer yes, but not there. Even if it did we would still be seriously shy of 2/3rds in the Assembly. So best case scenario its meaningless to get a non- right-wing budget passed. And for this we elevate a guy that cant even get nominated in his own party for a Statewide office, not to mention one who holds diametrically opposed views and values to the elected former holder of this office?  Even in the face of Republicans starting to clear the field for him? Don’t get me wrong, I want a Dem in that seat, and yes, John Laird is awesome. But on this issue,I don’t get the hype. There’s no “there” there……

  3. If your county DCC is anything like mine, it is made up almost entirely of the Burton slate.

  4. who ran for party chair on the promise that he’d back efforts to get majority rule on budgets and taxes, as well as get us to 2/3, and then reversed course after he’d muscled out all other candidates.

    a cynical person would start to wonder if the democrats are doing everything they can NOT to get functional control of the government.

  5. I actually agree Maldonado should be confirmed although not for the reasons you mention.  The LG’s office is more important than you (or some reporters) give it credit for, especially in connection with the UC system where a lot of key issues have been decided by single votes.  That being said, to pass any kind or progressive budget will probably take a couple of Republican votes even if we are at 2/3rds.  The reason is that private industry can cherry picks votes from legislators where one industry plays a key role in their district and controls their future.  (For example, farm country Dems can’t go too far against pesticide manufacturers).  To get those Rep votes requires at least the possibility that they will be rewarded down the line and a free pass for an appointed position is a fair reward and without it, the votes will probably not be there for the cuts that are needed in the next year.

    However the comment about reapportionment changing the district misses a huge point.  It is very possible the district will be changed to a different form and maybe even a more Republican District.  However if a Democrat holds the office with that number, that simply means we would hold what should be a Republican seat for an extra two years.  When the legislature drew lines, they always had a “gentlemans agreement” to avoid that kind of gameplaying, but the commission does not, so you could very easily see members of the opposite party representing districts they are a huge minority in for their first two years in the state senate. This can’t happen in any other job.

    As for the 2001 reapportionment, I would still point out that Democrats hold an edge that is above their current registration advantage in both houses of the legislature and that speaks for itself about how good the plan was (Republicans turn out at higher rates and you generally expect to see a split that is much closer than registration)

  6. the comment about numbering is on an issue that could be very critical in 2012, because no one knows for sure which districts will be up for reelection.  You could very easily have a member who has to make a choice of a free ride for two years or moving to a neighboring seat and running immediately and a lot of the people who are running this year may face that choice next time.

  7. Random thought for Robert:

    Occasionally find out the powers of each office before talking. It would save you from sounding exactly like a member of Fox News.

    For example, the LG (… )

    “The Lieutenant Governor sits on the UC Board of Regents, CSU Board of Trustees, Ocean Protection Council, the California Emergency Council, and the State Lands Commission. The Lieutenant Governor of California chairs the Commission for Economic Development which is responsible for fostering economic growth in California by developing and implementing strategies for attracting new business to the state, increasing state exports, creating new jobs, and stimulating industries statewide.

    Many California projects created through gubernatorial executive orders, or through the initiative process, include a role for the Lieutenant Governor. For example, the Lieutenant Governor serves on the Agriculture-Water Transition Task Force (created by Governor Gray Davis), and five of the twenty-nine members of the oversight committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor”

    Two of those “meaningless commissions” are the State Lands Commission (… ) and the Ocean Protection Council ( )

    These commissions are responsible for the day-to-day workings of everything environmental in the state of California.

    In addition, if one of Arnie’s Hummers rolls over him (or resigns because Obama appoints him ambassador to Austria), the LG then becomes Governor.

    And Robert wants to hand the LG to a Republican for what? The possibility of a State Senate seat – which may go Democratic anyhow.

    What kind of stupid did Robert drink?

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