Dean Florez to Leave LtGov Race? Dems to Cut Deal With Maldonado?

As Janice Hahn racks up the endorsements and continues to do well in the polls, State Senator Dean Florez is considering leaving the race for Lt. Governor according to the Fresno Bee:

In an interview today, the Shafter Democrat emphasized that he is still “100%” in the race. But he said the next few weeks will be critical as he does more private polling on his chances of beating Los Angeles City Council Member Janice Hahn. Hahn, the sister of former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, enjoys high name recognition in voter-rich Southern California and has performed well in private polling.

“Janice Hahn is formidable, no doubt,” Florez said. “I am going out to poll this next week and I’m anxious to see if the electorate has moved at all since her poll and I’m going to look at the poll and make a very informed decision.”

Florez also cited several key union endorsements Hahn has recently snared, including the California Federation of Teachers union and California Professional Firefighters.

Such an outcome wouldn’t surprise me at all. Hahn is a strong candidate with statewide appeal and who has taken some good progressive positions on key issues. Florez hasn’t been able to keep up, and given that Hahn already planned to exploit Florez’s weakness of being a sitting state legislator, I wouldn’t be surprised if Florez is using these polls to make a graceful exit.

But there’s another intriguing factor here. Whereas Dean Florez had been said to be lining up opposition among the Senate Democratic caucus to letting Abel Maldonado become the next Lt. Gov., that seems to be fading as Dems seek to cut a budget deal with Maldonado:

The wildcard in the race is Abel Maldonado, a Republican state senator and the governor’s pick to serve out the lieutenant governor term of Democrat John Garamendi, who was recently elected to Congress. Democrats have suggested they will reject his confirmation. But it is also widely speculated that Dems might not roadblock Maldonado if he cooperates with them on a state budget deal. Maldonado, a moderate Latino from the Central Coast, says he will run for lieutenant governor in the fall even if he’s not confirmed.

This is a more sensible approach to the Maldonado confirmation from the Dems than the “we won’t confirm him” stuff we’d been hearing in late 2009. It is in the Democrats’ interest to let Maldonado become Lt. Gov. and win back 15th Senate District seat. But why not use the leverage you do have over Maldonado while you’ve got it? If Dems can get Maldonado to vote for a decent budget, it’s worth trading that for letting him become Lt. Gov., a seat he’s unlikely to retain in November anyway.

One thought on “Dean Florez to Leave LtGov Race? Dems to Cut Deal With Maldonado?”

  1. As president of the San Pedro Democratic Club that is in in Hahn’s LA Council district, I am in full support of her candidacy and agree that she has taken progressive stands.

    She has also shown a lot of courage, which is rare among elected officials.

    And she has been a real leader in helping the environment and port truck drivers with the Clean Trucks Program. It is one of our pet causes and she has been fantastic.

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