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Abel Maldonado, Gavin Newsom exchange barbs

October 7, 2010 |  4:02 pm

The two candidates for California lieutenant governor clashed in a debate Thursday, talking about a wide range of political issues including education, the environment, immigration and government reform.

Republican Abel Maldonado tried to stress his political centrism, while Democrat Gavin Newsom tarred the appointed incumbent as too conservative for California.

The post of lieutenant governor is a job without much power or influence, and is often a political stepping stone for ambitious politicians.

Before Maldonado was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this year, the last three lieutenant governors all ran for higher political office.

Newsom touted his record as San Francisco mayor while blasting Maldonado for voting for "the biggest tax increase in California history and the biggest education cuts in California history."

Maldonado essentially called Newsom a hypocrite, pointing out that Newsom urged voters to support those same proposals in a May 2009 special election. "You can't have it both ways," Maldonado told Newsom.

Newsom repeated numerous times that Maldonado supported Proposition 187. Maldonado denied the charge.

Maldonado took repeated shots at San Francisco's policy of not turning felons over to federal immigration authorities. He said Newsom was "thumbing his nose at the law. You can't do that."

He also sought to strike moderate tones, repeating his support for the state's open-primary election law at every turn.

Newsom said "Democrats have had it too easy," and that he opposes Proposition 27, which would repeal a recent law that would hand power to draw legislative district maps over to an independent commission.

"I think our democracy would be well served with some competition," he said.

Maldonado said he wants to extend the power of the independent commission to congressional districts and supports Proposition 20 on the November ballot.

"You can't have your cake and eat it too," Maldonado said. "The partisanship is in Washington also. It's not just here."

-- Anthony York