As Some Hesitate, Laird Says He Can Win Maldonado’s Seat

I need to say something: I <3 John Laird.

There, I said it. Former Asm. John Laird is neither flashy nor overly charismatic. But when it comes to quietly doing the work of the people, nobody works harder, knows his stuff better, or really understands the budget better than John Laird. And honestly, we really need him in the Senate.

So, as the Calitics editorial board has pointed out before, the Legislature should approve the nomination of Sen. Abel Maldonado to Lt. Governor. And while the race is going to be competitive, Laird has the horses to win the race:

Laird, a Santa Cruz Democrat, said Monday that the poll gave him a lead “in the low single digits.” Respondents were asked twice about the theoretical match-up, first near the beginning of the call with pollsters, then again “after every conceivable thing was thrown and him and me both,” Laird said. He said the lead grew slightly after potential negatives were given to respondents. (CapWkly)

This is a winnable race. And a winnable race for a solid progressive that will work his ass off to improve this state. For me, it’s an easy call what you do here. But some see otherwise, saying that it’s too big of a risk, that it gives up too much.  Here’s Asm. Pedro Nava:

I will be voting “no” to confirm state Sen. Abel Maldonado to the second-highest constitutional office in California, a heartbeat from the governor, that of lieutenant governor.

Much has been made of his congenial personality, his friendly demeanor and his one vote to increase the minimum wage. But in order to take Sen. Maldonado’s true measure, you need to examine over 150 votes on issues of great significance to all Californians – laws that impact farmworkers, health care, civil rights, labor, women, consumers, seniors and the environment. (SacBee)

Look, if given the choice, I doubt there are too many people that would vote for Abel Maldonado for dog catcher around here. Yet, that isn’t what this is about. This is a confirmation hearing, not a test of whether you like the guy.  Clearly, progressives aren’t going to like him, but the same was said of Bruce McPherson when he took over the  (arguably more important) SecState gig. The Assembly confirmed him then, including a vote from Asm. Nava. As Sen. Steinberg mentioned last week, this is a vote about whether Maldonado is competent to assume the LG job, and it’s hard to argue that Maldonado is any more or less competent to assume that rather powerless gig than any of the candidates in the race for 2010.

Sen. Maldonado’s votes are bad. Very bad. So, let’s get him out of the Senate where he is casting those votes and into a short stint as LG.

SD-15 needs John Laird. California needs John Laird. A few months of incumbency in a rather banal gig is a risk worth taking. The calculus doesn’t actually seem that hard. Confirm Maldonado, and let’s get to the business of electing Sen. John Laird.

7 thoughts on “As Some Hesitate, Laird Says He Can Win Maldonado’s Seat”

  1. I have no idea if Maldonado will be confirmed, but I do think McPherson was a much stronger appointee.  McPherson, it seems to me, was liked and respected on both sides of the aisle.  Maldonado seems much more mercurial.  For some, it is hard to get past his hijacking of the budget process to force his own personal views onto the ballot.  For others, the relevant issue is flipping the state senate seat.  And so forth.

    The state constitution is silent as to the grounds a legislator should use in voting to confirm or not confirm an appointee to fill a vacancy in executive office.  So it is up to each legislator to decide, based on any factors that he or she considers relevant.  Some may think basic competency is the most important element; others may look at an appointee’s position on the issues.  In this case, they all have leeway to do whatever they personally believe is right.

  2. Steinberg is right—the standard is whether Maldanado is competent to assume the LG job. Mike Curb, Cruz Bustamante, John Harmer and Merv Dymally didn’t exactly set the bar very high but it is what it is. Not every LG nominee in this situation will be a Leo McCarthy, a John Garamendi or even a Gray Davis.

    As for the politics–Brian is correct. Laird is intelligent, can work with all sides, is principled,, knows the budget better than most, and will win. Tell your assemblymembers not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

  3. One of my biggest arguments against term limits has been John Laird’s career in the Assembly.  The guy walks on water.  He really does, and it was a crime that he could not continue there.

    Having a cipher like Maldonado becoming Lt. Gov. is a minor irritant.  And having John run and take over the 15th from Barely Abel is a huge win for the people of the district and for the people of the state.  

  4. Is there risk in Maldonado becoming Lt. Gov?  Sure.  There is energy in the Tea Party nonsense and Republicans have won in some rather liberal areas. Republicans could retain the 15SD.

    But we have a shot at taking a 2/3 majority in the Senate.  Why would we shy from that opportunity.  On top of that, we have an opportunity to put one of the very best from the Assembly into the Senate.  Why would we shy from that opportunity.

    Any Democrat who is fearful of Maldonado moving up to become Governor has obviously not met Maldonado.  Only billionaires need apply to become the Republican nominee for Governor.  

  5. Brian nailed it — we need John Laird and more wise, honest, hardworking folks like him in the state legislature. He’s the poster child for why term limits are a baaaaad bleating idea for California (just like demon sheep! Sorry, couldn’t resist). For one thing, Laird would never sell our environment down the river for questionable/short-term economic benefits. Take a few minutes to listen to what Laird says about Building a Greener Governor:

  6. John is a great guy and should keep his powder dry for 2012.  He can’t win in this special election.  Who’s going to pay the $3-4 million it’s gonna cost to run this race ?  I’m sure all the cheerleaders on this blog are ready to donate $100 each, great now he’s up to a few thousand with several million to go.  There are no deep pockets waiting to fund this, not the unions who are losing members every day and absorbing layoffs and getting ready to fight horrible life changing ballot initiatives, not anybody else.

    Let’s get real and bounce Barely Able from consideration and build for 2012 the right way.  Plus folks belittle the LG seat but you really ought to read about the LG’s powers, a sharp person like Janice Hahn could make it a force to be listened to, respected and effective.

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