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Schwarzenegger appears in East L.A. with his choice for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Abel Maldonado

November 24, 2009 | 10:26 am

During a ceremony in East L.A. this morning, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly introduced state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) as his pick for lieutenant governor.

"He is a model of post-partisanship," Schwarzenegger said in a news conference at Ruben Salazar Park. "He always chooses the people of California over politics."

Standing with his family, some of whom wept, Maldonado thanked Schwarzenegger.

"I will work hard everyday for everyone in California to make this place a better California," Maldonado said.

The news conference came the day after Schwarzenegger announced Maldonado as his pick during a taping of "The Jay Leno Show." The appointment must still be confirmed within 90 days by a majority in both houses of the Legislature.

If confirmed, Maldonado would replace John Garamendi, a Walnut Grove Democrat recently elected to Congress. The 42-year-old Maldonado has long been interested in higher office and has been among the few ideological allies Schwarzenegger has had in the Legislature.

In February, Maldonado was one of six Republicans to support Schwarzenegger's push for a temporary tax increase as part of the state's spending plan. But first, he insisted the package include a proposition for the statewide ballot that would open primary elections in California to voters of all political parties. The measure, which would benefit political moderates such as him, will go before voters in June.

Maldonado comes from an immigrant family that built its small family farm into a thriving agricultural business with several hundred acres of land and a large staff. He spoke at two national Republican Party conventions, including last year's. He ran for state controller in 2006, losing to a more conservative Republican in the primary election.

-- Ruben Vives in East L.A.