Schwarzenegger names lieutenant governor

By Chris Rizo | Nov 23, 2009

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

Pedro Nava (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday appointed a state lieutenant governor the same day a Democratic candidate for attorney general urged the Republican governor to hold off.

Schwarzenegger tapped state Sen. Abel Maldonado, a moderate Santa Maria Republican, to fill the post left vacant when Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives this month.

Maldonado, 42, has been a key ally of the governor, helping him to approve this year's budget that contained tax increases opposed by most Republicans.

The state's Democratic-controlled state Legislature must confirm Maldonado. The state constitution allows lawmakers 90 days to act on the appointment. If either the state Assembly or Senate rejects Maldonado, the governor would be forced to make a different nomination or leave the post vacant.

The California lieutenant governor is paid an annual salary of $159,134.

In a column published this morning on The Huffington Post, state Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, urged the governor to delay an appointment until shortly before one of the state's next regularly-scheduled elections -- in either June or November of 2010 -- to avoid unnecessary expense.

"I firmly believe that the governor should be careful and thoughtful about this appointment. This decision should not be rushed, as some have suggested. It should not be political. In fact, it should not be now," wrote Nava, who is running for state attorney general.

In his column, Nava said if the governor taps a sitting member of the state Legislature were appointed to the post it could cost as much as $3 million to hold a special election to determine a replacement legislator.

"Now is clearly not the time for politically-motivated appointments -- especially those that will yield added costs through a domino of special elections," Nava wrote, citing the California's budget shortfall estimated to reach $21 billion over the next year and a half.

Garamendi, a former state insurance commissioner, was elected to Congress this month to replace Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat who resigned to take a senior post in the U.S. State Department.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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