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Schwarzenegger Introduces Lieutenant Governor Nominee

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced his choice for lieutenant governor, Sen. Abel Maldonado, to the public today in East Los Angeles.

Schwarzenegger announced on "The Jay Leno Show" Monday that he would nominate Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, to succeed John Garamendi, who was elected to a Northern California congressional seat Nov. 3.

"He's a terrific loyal man that has worked very hard in public service," Schwarzenegger said. "But he's also into bipartisanship and postpartisanship, so he can cross the aisle. He makes decisions on what's best for the people, rather than what's best for the party."

At a news conference in East Los Angeles today, Maldonado said he was anxious to work with Schwarzenegger.

"Governor Schwarzenegger has done an outstanding job as governor of California," Maldonado said. "We have to reform it. We have to rebuild it. He's been doing that and I look forward to continuing to help him in the office right next door to his."

Maldonado's support for a tax increase this year brought him criticism from fellow Republicans.

"I anticipate a rigorous confirmation process for this appointment and potentially an even more rigorous Republican primary for lieutenant governor," said Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

"It is difficult to see how a candidate who has voted for a massive tax increase could possibly win a statewide Republican primary."

Maldonado's appointment requires confirmation from both houses of the Legislature.

"I don't see the Senate confirming him," Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Maldonado, 42, was a member of the Santa Maria City Council from 1994-96, and its mayor from 1996-98. He was in the Assembly from 1998-2004 and elected to the Senate in 2004.

"Like the governor, I learned the values of hard work, dedication and personal responsibility at a young age and place a high priority on reforming California's broken government so that it is more responsive to and reflective of California's diverse population," Maldonado said in a statement released by the Governor's Office.

"I'm honored to take on the position of lieutenant governor and I look forward to working with the governor to tackle important issues facing California and to ensure all Californians have the opportunity to realize their own American dream."

If confirmed, Maldonado would become the state's first Republican lieutenant governor since Mike Curb, who served from 1979-83.

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