Maldonado is expected to be sworn in as soon as tomorrow, and would then vacate his seat as the Senator from the 15th District (where I live). After that, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would then schedule the special elections to fill the SD-15 vacancy. It is expected that the first round would be in August and the runoff would be folded in with the November general election.
The Republican candidate is likely to be Sam Blakeslee (AD-33, San Luis Obispo), who was up until recently the Minority Leader in the Assembly. The Democratic candidate is going to be John Laird, a progressive hero who represented AD-27 (Monterey, Santa Cruz) until he was termed out in 2008.
To say Laird is beloved by his former constituents is to understate the case. In February 2008, AD-27 was one of the few districts in the entire state to vote in favor of Proposition 93, the term limits extension bill. Signs around Monterey Bay read “Keep John Laird: Yes on 93.”
A Laird victory, along with Anna Caballero running next door in SD-12 (Salinas, Merced, Modesto), would give Democrats a 2/3rds majority in the State Senate. It would transform California politics and immeasurably boost the position of progressives and Democrats ahead of what will be another year or two of difficult budget choices.
SD-15 is a winnable district for Democrats. After all, the most recent registration numbers show that SD-15 is a blue district, with 41% Dems, 34.5% Reps, and 23% DTS. It is a district Obama won by over 20 points. Further, roughly 58% of the voters in SD-15 live north of the Monterey/SLO County line – in John Laird country.
The battle for 2/3rds is about to begin, and Monterey County will be ground zero. We’ve got an election to win, and a state to save.
UPDATE: Maldonado will indeed be sworn in tomorrow and resign his Senate seat at the same time. The Central Coast’s long nightmare is about to end, and an opportunity to rescue California is about to arrive.