Tomorrow the Senate Rules Committee will hold its first hearing on the confirmation of Abel Maldonado as Lieutenant Governor, and already some Democrats are trying to block it, making the rather strange claim that somehow the “lite gov” office is more important than a 2/3rds majority in the Senate. One of those arguments comes from CDP Vice-Chair Alex Gallardo-Rooker:
In a letter that invoked the memory of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker sent a letter to Democrats in the Legislature urging them to vote against Maldonado’s confirmation.
“In no way should this seat be willfully ceded to the Republicans …” the letter states. “Should that happen, Democrats across the state have every reason to be demoralized and further disconnected from you, our elected Democratic leaders.”
This is precisely the opposite view from the one the Calitics Editorial Board took last November in our open letter to the California Senate Democratic Caucus regarding the Maldonado nomination:
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….
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.
This whole situation is analogous to the crisis facing Democrats at the national level. The US Senate Democrats have jeopardized Democratic control of Congress through their cutting of bad deals that undermined public confidence in their ability to deliver desired reforms. As a result, Democrats lost Kennedy’s senate seat, and now face losing control of one or both houses of Congress because they cannot get anything done thanks to a supermajority rule.
And instead of tackling the supermajority rule that led them to make the damaging deal with Ben Nelson and could cost them the Congress, Dems instead seem unlikely to repeal the filibuster rule, fearing what would happen if Republicans took control rather than using their majorities to forestall Republican control by taking action the people want them to take.
Democrats would be reckless to give up a chance to win 2/3rds in the State Senate just because they’re afraid of Maldonado in the November election. I have every reason to believe Janice Hahn can beat him. I’m not afraid of the fight. I know that Democrats win by taking to the offense and promoting their agenda and their values to an electorate that shares both. I hope the State Senate knows it too.
They don’t have to confirm Maldonado (though they had no problem confirming Republican Bruce MacPherson to replace Democrat Kevin Shelley as Secretary of State in 2005). But they should not throw away a golden opportunity to win 2/3rds and beat back the Republicans for good. Nothing would demoralize Democrats more than tossing away that opportunity out of fear.
UPDATE: Maldonado says he would vote NO on Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling project. This is a very big deal, since Maldonado would be the 3rd and deciding vote on the State Lands Commission, which has the ability to approve or deny the plan.