Maldonado To Be Confirmed as Lt. Gov. In Late April?

That’s what the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross are reporting this morning:

Despite his failure to win confirmation in the state Assembly, state Sen. Abel Maldonado is likely to become California’s interim lieutenant governor sometime in May.

In the weeks since the heavily Democratic Assembly refused to confirm him, Republican Maldonado has met repeatedly with new Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez.

Pérez told Maldonado to sit tight and wait, “until cooler heads prevail.”

Those in the know tell us the “cooler heads” will prevail around the end of April. If lawmakers wait that long, Maldonado’s Senate replacement would be chosen in the November general election, rather than in an earlier special election that would yield a lower turnout.

With a big turnout, Democrats believe they’d have a better shot of winning Maldonado’s district, which runs from just south of San Jose all the way to Santa Barbara County.

One of the main reasons we’d heard that the Assembly rejected the Maldonado nomination last month was concern about how John Laird, the likely Democratic candidate for SD-15, would fare in a special election that would coincide with the June primary. I am absolutely confident that Laird would have won anyway. But a November runoff (with an August/early September first round) would probably have an electorate that’s more favorable to Democrats.

SD-15 (where I live) went for Obama by 20 points in 2008 and our current registration numbers are 41% Dems, 34.5% Reps, and 23% DTS.

While nobody in California may get the same kind of turnout in November 2010 that we saw in November 2008, the registration numbers are favorable, as is the fact that nearly 60% of SD-15 lies north of the Monterey-San Luis Obispo County line. That’s Laird country, and is strongly Democratic. Sam Blakeslee, the likely Republican candidate, comes from the southern half of the district, representing San Luis Obispo. Laird can and will run a strong and competitive campaign there, and a November race gives him time to build that out.

As we’ve said before, confirming Maldonado would be the right move. I agree it’s distasteful to confirm one of the Legislature’s most frustrating members, who has made deals for himself at the expense of everyone else in the state. As one of Maldonado’s constituents, I have more cause to dislike him and his politics than almost anyone.

But the big picture remains: in November 2010, Monterey County and the rest of SD-12 and SD-15 can bring us a 2/3rds majority in the State Senate. That is a Holy Grail worth seeking.