Maldonado Confirmation Hearings Begin This Week: Will Dems Make The Right Call?

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.

5 thoughts on “Maldonado Confirmation Hearings Begin This Week: Will Dems Make The Right Call?”

  1. You are absolutely right – the State Senate should confirm Maldonado and we can all get to work on electing former Assemblyman John Laird to fill the vacant seat.

    With all due respect to Ms. Gallardo-Rooker, a terrific Democratic activist who has earned great admiration among Democrats for her years of hard work and leadership, it simply makes more political sense for Democrats to hold their noses and confirm the Republican. It’s quite possible that Maldonado will lose a GOP primary, anyway, and I firmly believe that Janice Hahn can defeat any GOP nominee.  

    I’m a Democratic purist, too, but the prospect of sending a progressive leader like John Laird to the State Senate is simply too good an opportunity for us to pass up.  

  2. 1) Maldo has no legitimate opponent in the Republican primary.  His opponent is Sen. Aaanestad who has $85K to run and that includes his $50K loan to himself.  Maldo will walk in as Republican nominee.  And as an incumbent he has a big leg up.  What a foolish move !

    2) There are only 25 Dem Senators.  Even if Laird can pull off a miracle in a low-turnout, old white folks, conservative, Special Election race and win, the Senate only reaches 26 Dem votes.  That ain’t 2/3rds.  And is one State Senate seat worth the Lt. Governor’s office ?

    3) Does anyone know who becomes Governor if the Governor is no longer able to serve for whatever reason ?  Does anyone know how many times that happened in the last century for instance ?  That would be the Lt Governor, and some want to willingly give it away to a Republican.

    4) No Thanks !  Dems will rightly be held to account should they vote for a Republican to replace a Democrat who won the seat by over 350,000.

    5) Defeatists.  Willingly giving away power.  The Republicans fight and we have some of our own just giving it away.  The Legislature’s Dems will go from 17% approval rating to 2% approval rating as the final true believer Dems bailout.

    6) Does anyone even notice we don’t have a Lt. Governor ?  No.  Just keep the seat open until November when the voters can decide.

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