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State Senate leader casts doubt on lieutenant governor nominee Abel Maldonado

November 24, 2009 | 11:05 am

State Sen. Abel Maldonado’s nomination as California’s next lieutenant governor may already be in trouble.

Minutes after a Los Angeles event this morning, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hailing the moderate Santa Maria Republican as his pick for the office,  state Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) released a statement expressing “grave doubts” about the choice. Maldonado needs the approval of the Democratic-dominated Legislature to take the post. 

Steinberg cited the $2-million cost of the special election that would be required to fill Maldonado’s Senate seat, suggesting the money could be better spent scaling back recent fee hikes at state colleges and universities.

The Senate leader, under pressure to keep the post open for Democrats running for lieutenant governor themselves in next year’s election, also suggested he would like to see the job left vacant.

“It may be both fiscally and politically prudent to permit the people to make their own selection for this statewide office next year and avoid the expense of a costly special election,” his statement said.

--Evan Halper in Sacramento