Leno: Even if Maldonado Becomes Lt. Gov, Republican Voters Won't Back a Latino

La respuesta del Senador Maldonado en español from CA Senate GOP on Vimeo.

Sen. Mark Leno, the sole San Francisco legislator to vote in favor of installing Republican Abel Maldonado as the state's next Lieutenant Governor, said he has good reasons for casting his vote the way he did. But he said Maldonado has great reasons for wanting an appointment to statewide office — namely, that Republican voters would not support a Latino.

“The combination of votes he has passed and how they are received in a Republican primary along with his ethnicity would significantly reduce his viability,” says Leno. “I've seen the polls. And Abel has the polls himself — which is why he so strongly advocated for the open primary.”

Maldonado  was the one Republican to cross party lines last year and work with Democrats to craft a budget; in return, joked Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Maldonado demanded “a date with Brad Pitt.” One of the conditions of Maldonado's “date” was ballot measure this year to establish open primaries in statewide offices — which would be politically advantageous for the central coast Republican. “If you describe to a Republican primary voter someone with Abel's profile — farmer, successful small business person, self-made — with an Anglo name, he polls very well,” continued Leno. “The same profile with Abel's name falls flat.”

While the state senate approved Maldonado's appointment, the Assembly yesterday voted 37-35 in his favor — falling short of the 41-vote majority. While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that's good enough for him, Leno and other state Democrats said that's a matter for the courts to decide.

Sen. Leland Yee, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano voted against Maldonado. Ammiano explained his decision by pointing out that Maldonado's record was “really, really terrible.

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