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Abel Maldonado ends California gubernatorial bid: 'Now is not my time'

Abel Maldonado ends California gubernatorial bid: 'Now is not my time'
Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, seen last year, announced in April that he was considering running for governor, but his campaign hit rocky patches immediately. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the governor's race to spend more time with his family.

"I know today California can do better. But after having traveled all over the state and giving it my all  I have concluded that now is not my time," Maldonado said, according to prepared remarks. "It's time to step away for a while and spend more time with my family and stay a little closer to home helping my community, as an active private citizen."

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Maldonado announced in April that he was considering running for governor, but his campaign hit rocky patches immediately.

Maldonado initially staked his bid by arguing that Californians were unsafe because of Gov. Jerry Brown's prison policy known as realignment, which changed custody rules for nonviolent offenders.  As he unveiled a ballot measure to reverse that policy, Maldonado held a May press conference and pointed to a larger-than-life police mug of Jerome Anthony Rogers, 57, who is accused of murdering a 76-year-old San Bernardino woman, and recounted Rogers' history of "sodomizing a 14-year-old girl."

Rogers' alleged crime appeared to have little or no connection with realignment. California corrections officials said he was released from state prison in 2000 and finished parole in 2003, eight years before Brown's policy change took effect.

By the summer, Maldonado was struggling to raise money and spending heavily on consultants. In his July fundraising disclosures, Maldonado reported raising more than $300,000 but had less than $45,000 in the bank and in outstanding bills.

In September, news leaked that his top advisors were no longer with the campaign, though it is unclear if they were fired or left him. One told The Times that they had advised Maldonado to abandon his bid for governor. He remained relatively quiet in the following months, as Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) entered the race, and former investment banker Neel Kashkari announced he was eyeing a run.

On Thursday, Maldonado announced his decision outside Santa Maria City Hall, where his political life began as a member of the City Council and mayor. Maldonado pledged to remain involved in public life, but said he needed to spend time with his family.

"It's just time for me, to take a break -- and focus more of my time on being a full-time dad and husband," he said, according to the prepared remarks. "I know it's cliché to say I am not running so I can spend more time with my family.  Everybody says that. But the truth is, that is, a major factor in my decision today. I have missed some birthdays, family holidays and even anniversaries. From this day forward [wife] Laura now controls my schedule."

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Twitter: @LATSeema

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