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Senate sets date for Maldonado confirmation hearing

January 27, 2010 | 11:00 am
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has set Feb. 3 as the date the Senate Rules Committee will consider Sen. Abel Maldonado's appointment as lieutenant governor.

Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) was selected by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to succeed John Garamendi, who was elected to Congress in November. Maldonado will automatically become lieutenant governor on Feb. 22. But his confirmation can be accelerated if both the full Senate and Assembly confirm him before then. Either legislative house has the power to reject Maldonado's nomination.

The Assembly has not yet set a date for Maldonado's confirmation hearing, though Assembly Democrats are expected to discuss how to proceed in private meetings next week.

While Maldonado could automatically get his promotion on Feb 22, the Legislature has been under pressure to speed up the timeline. If Maldonado is confirmed by Feb. 16, it will allow Schwarzenegger to consolidate the special election to replace Maldonado in the Senate with the June primaries.

If they wait until Feb. 22, it will force a separate election date to replace Maldonado at an additional cost to the five counties that make up Maldonado's 15th Senate District. Those counties are Santa Clara, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

Maldonado faces potential opposition from both political parties. Some Democrats have called for his rejection for purely partisan reasons. Conservative Republicans have criiticized Maldonado for voting for tax increases during last year's budget negotiations.

--Anthony York in Sacramento