Abel Maldonado confirmed as lieutenant governor

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

State Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) was confirmed by the California Senate on Monday as lieutenant governor, filling a vacancy created when John Garamendi was elected to Congress.

“We know he will bring the spirit of hard work and problem-solving to the lieutenant governor’s office,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) after the 25-7 vote.

“I’ll never forget whose money the government spends,” Maldonado said.

Those who voted against confirmation included Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley), who is running for the job in the June election. “Don’t be in a hurry to change the drapes too soon” Aanestad quipped.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed Maldonado to the No. 2 job, now must call a special election to fill Maldonado’s 15th District seat.The governor has the option of consolidating the special run-off with the state’s general election scheduled for Nov. 2, which Democrats say would save more than $2.5 million in election costs.

Democrats believe a consolidated election would produce a larger turnout that would give them an advantage in their effort to take a senate district where they enjoy a slight edge in voter registration.The district’s voters are 46.7% Democrat, 34.5% Republican and 19.6% decline to state.

A largely ceremonial position, the lieutenant governor becomes acting governor when the governor leaves the state. He also serves as president of the state Senate and serves on the governing boards for California’s public university systems and on the state Lands Commission.