How Do You Solve A Problem Like Abel?

There have been few more vocal and persistent critics of Senator Abel Maldonado than this site, myself in particular. As one of his constituents I have always regretted the fact that he (theoretically) represents me in the State Senate, and have eagerly awaited the day when the Central Coast could replace him with someone who better reflects our values, like John Laird.

In fact, it’s my strong dislike of Maldonado and his conservative politics that partly explains my support for his nomination to fill the vacant post of Lt. Governor. As we all learned a year ago, Maldonado has done massive damage to the state from his post in the Senate. His blackmail led to the removal of some needed tax solutions from the budget, and wound up placing the top-two primary on the June ballot, Prop 14, which if approved will increase the power of corporate money in Democratic primary elections.

My opposition to Maldonado and his politics leads me to conclude that the deal being placed on the table for Democrats – that we should confirm him to a short stint as Lt. Governor in exchange for the opportunity to win back a blue district represented by a right-wing Senator and help achieve a 2/3rds majority – is a deal we absolutely ought to take. Calitics said as much in our open letter to the Senate Democrats in November when the nomination was announced. And we stand by it.

Not all Democrats agree. Several Democratic Assemblymembers are pledging to block Maldonado’s nomination, with Pedro Nava being perhaps the most outspoken. Late last night, Nava sent an email to his list pointing out Maldonado’s flawed and out-of-touch politics and asking people to contact their legislators to block Maldonado’s confirmation:

Right now, I want to share with you an urgent matter facing California. Recently, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated Senator Abel Maldonado to fill the vacancy of Lieutenant Governor, a mere heartbeat away from the Governor’s office. It is vital to the future of California that we do not confirm a candidate whose record does not reflect our state’s values.

The state legislature must now determine whether or not to confirm Senator Maldonado. This means that your local Assemblymembers and Senators will be voting on his appointment this week. I urge you to take action now to oppose Senator Maldonado’s confirmation by contacting your legislators.

Senator Maldonado voted against legislation to protect consumers, healthcare coverage, the environment and the rights of women, seniors and workers. These issues are of great significance to Californians and Senator Maldonado’s views simply do not represent everyday working families.

The email also included a link to an an exhaustive list of Maldonado’s votes on key issues, illustrating his right-wing record.

Nava is absolutely right that Maldonado’s “record does not reflect our state’s values.” Which would seem a pretty damn compelling reason to get him out of the Legislature and into an office with very little power, where he can do very little damage, and where he’ll be subject to not one but two statewide votes this year (the Republican primary in June and the general election in November) where Californians can show they reject Maldonado’s values by rejecting Maldonado himself.

Democrats should not be afraid of Maldonado. Dean Florez, Janice Hahn, and even Gavin Newsom were he to jump into the LG race could beat Maldonado. In exchange, Democrats can make Monterey County ground zero in the fight for 2/3rds in the State Senate. California Democrats should be in the business of expanding the field of opportunities to win more seats and enact our agenda, not hiding in fear of a Latino Republican deeply unpopular with his own party base.

Further, Democratic Assemblymembers have every reason to want to see Maldonado out of the Senate. In the last year or so, the Assembly has generally produced better policies and votes on issues such as offshore drilling and the state budget. The Assembly has had to fight rear-guard actions against things the Senate has foisted upon them – but that could come to an end if Dems win a 2/3rds majority in the Senate.

So I don’t really understand why Nava is so fired up about blocking Maldonado’s nomination. I share Nava’s outrage at Abel’s politics, but confirming him still seems like the most obvious thing in the world to do right now.

One thought on “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Abel?”

  1. We’re talking about 10 months or so of him as LG in return for a shot at the Senate seat. Seriously, what is he going to do in 10 months as LG that would really be so horrible. He’s said he’d vote against Tranquillion Ridge, and would look suspiciously at additional fee increases at the universities.  He’s not going to perfectly match our values, he’s a Republican.  

    But given the previous LG’s, the bar isn’t very high. Just confirm him already.

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