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Governor's Lt. Governor Pick In Limbo

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Early in the day the State Senate overwhelmingly approved GOP Senator Abel Maldonado’s nomination as Lieutenant Governor. He was jubilant:
 “Mucho gracias to all of you. And to my colleagues on the Republican side, thank-you too…and to the Democrats, thank-you too. You have no idea how I feel right now. You just don’t.”

But it was a different story in the Assembly, where Democratic Assemblyman Alberto Torrico sharply criticized a deal Maldonado made last year in exchange for his vote on the state budget:

 “He not only extracted an open primary, a constitutional amendment for his vote, he also I believe extracted the appointment to be lieutenant governor for his vote and that is completely inappropriate and it cannot be rewarded.”
After several hours and several votes, the 80-member Assembly failed to approve the nomination, 37 to 35. Assembly Democrats say it’s a done deal, that the Senator’s been rejected. But Governor Schwarzenegger disagrees. Amanda Fulkerson is with the Governor’s office.

 “We believe that Maldonado will be the next Lieutenant Governor and he will be sworn in by the Governor on or directly after the 22nd of this month.”

Schwarzenegger’s legal team says since a majority of the Assembly did not REJECT Maldonado, he gets the job. Maldonado agrees. But he was clearly rattled by the day’s drama. He made a short statement to reporters – less than 45 seconds, and didn’t take any questions:

 “I just want to thank my colleagues for their support today. I must tell you that I feel honored and I feel great with the vote that I’ve received.”

Democratic Assemblyman Charles Calderon says if the Governor does swear Maldonado in, here’s what he’ll do:

Cut “not to recognize him, not to permit him to attend any meetings and not to allow him to perform an of the function of the office.”
Ultimately the issue is likely to end up in the courts. The Lieutenant Governor post was vacated when John Garamendi was elected to Congress last year.
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