Abel Maldonado is confirmed as lieutenant governor

State Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) was confirmed as lieutenant governor Monday by the state Senate. He will fill a vacancy created when John Garamendi was elected to Congress late last year.

Maldonado said he planned to take the oath of office Tuesday after resigning from the Legislature and would be an activist lieutenant governor focusing on economic issues.

“I’m going to work every day for jobs, jobs and jobs,” he told reporters.


The lieutenant governor becomes acting governor when the sitting governor leaves the state. He or she also serves as president of the state Senate and is on the governing boards of California’s public university systems and state Lands Commission.

The vote was 25-7. Some Republicans have criticized Maldonado for siding with the Democratic majority to raise taxes last year. Those who voted against confirmation included Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley), who is vying with Maldonado for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in the June primary election.

“Don’t be in a hurry to change the drapes too soon,” Aanestad quipped.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who chose Maldonado for the No. 2 job, now must call a special election to fill Maldonado’s Senate seat. The governor has the option of consolidating the special runoff with the state’s general election 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 and give them an advantage in the 15th Senate District, where they have a slight edge in voter registration.