Pedro Nava (D)

Abel Maldonado (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California state Assemblyman Pedro Nava, who is running for attorney general, appears to be leading the Democratic opposition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pick for lieutenant governor.

Schwarzenegger in November 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.

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

Both houses of the state's Democratic-controlled state Legislature must confirm Maldonado for him to take the $159,134 a year post. If confirmed, Maldonado would serve out the remainder of Garamendi's term, which runs through the end of this year.

Today, the Assembly Rules Committee, led by Democratic AG hopeful Ted Lieu of Torrance, is scheduled to begin Maldonado's confirmation hearing.

Nava, D-Santa Barbara, has taken aim at Maldonado's voting record as reason for his opposition. He also said the state's primary elections are just about 120 days away so the governor should forego an appointment and let the voters decide the state's next No. 2 official.

California's lieutenant governor serves as president of the state Senate, a regent of the University of California system, a trustee of the California State University system and as a member of the State Lands Commission, among other powerful roles.

"It is important that the Assembly conduct its due diligence and look at his voting record and positions on the issues that affect all Californians--and 99.9 percent of the time he has not stood with the everyday working men and women of this state who are struggling to raise their families," Nava said Monday. "I cannot in good conscience vote to confirm Mr. Maldonado. Why not let the voters decide in the primary election in June if they want the senator's name on the ballot?"

Nava has taken aim at Maldonado in a flurry of press releases, a November column in the liberal Huffington Post and in newspaper op-eds published this week.

In all, three Assembly Democrats held a Capitol news conference Monday, arguing against Maldonado's nomination. In addition to Nava, Jose Solorio, D -Anaheim, and Tony Mendoza, D -Norwalk, say they will vote against Maldonado's confirmation, which could come as soon as this week in the Assembly.

"From one moderate to another, I encourage Senator Maldonado to remain where he is needed," Solorio said. "Voters can decide soon enough on the lieutenant governor replacement."

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

More News