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California’s Lieutenant Governor’s Race Heats Up

The office of Lieutenant Governor in California is not a very high profile one. It carries relatively little responsibility. Except for the fact that the Lieutenant Governor is one heartbeat away from the most powerful position in California politics - the Governorship.

This year’s candidates for Lieutenant Governor have brought a lot of attention to a race that usually gets very little. Republicans are supporting the current appointed Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado. Democrats mostly support San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Reporter Ida Lieszkovszky caught up with Newsom while he was campaigning in Sacramento.

He was feasting on some Texas ribs while bashing Texas oil. He did it at news conference to demonstrate his opposition to Proposition 23, which would suspend California’s greenhouse gas restrictions.

Newsom initially ran for Governor. After a few months he decided to run for Lieutenant Governor instead to clear the way for Jerry Brown. The question remains, whether he has plans to run for Governor in the future?

“The question is will I be an effective Lieutenant Governor and I’ve got to prove that and I can’t just assert that," said Newsom. "And one thing I don’t want to be is just sitting around at ribbon cuttings I’m not that kind of person, I’m more entrepreneurial I want to get into the weeds I want to get into the details and so I really want to change the focus of the Lt Governor’s office and I want to make it more meaningful.”

Newsom emphasized that although he is very liberal socially, he’s pretty conservative fiscally.

“I actually happen to think taxes are very high in the state of California and a lot of business regulation stifling business creation and job growth.”

"Do you think that your time as mayor of San Francisco has prepared you for a statewide role like Lieutenant Governor?" asked Lieszkovszky.

“You know what’s great about being a mayor is you’re in the ‘how business’ you got to get things done," replied Newsom. "No one cares if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. I’m not an ideologue, I’m open argument I’m interested in evidence I get in a lot of trouble in San Francisco, particularly San Francisco politics because I’m a pro-jobs pro-business mayor again coming from the private sector I want to incentivize private job creation. I do tax incentives, I haven’t raised taxes since I’ve been mayor we’ve balanced budgets without it.”

Newsom’s opponent, Abel Maldonado, has a reputation as a moderate Republican. Given Newsom’s self-professed fiscally conservative attitude, Lieszkovszky asked him what he thinks sets him apart from Maldonado.

“The records are different and the approach will be different and I just think we need some change up here," said Maldonado. "Abel’s been here for 12 years. He’s supported a lot of budget’s not just last year’s budget that cut education he supported the 2004 budget of Schwarzenegger that cut education I just don’t think we need to go in that direction I think we need a new one.”

Lieszkovszky caught up with the Republican incumbent, Abel Maldonado at a campaign event to support Proposition 20, which would increase the power of the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission.

Maldonado has served in the California Assembly and Senate. For the past five months, he’s been the state’s Lieutenant Governor. Given his reputation as a moderate Republican, Lieszkovszky asked him what sets him apart from Gavin Newsom.

“I think the biggest difference is the style of leadership," said Maldonado. "My style of leadership is bring people together, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, decline-to-states. You put them in a room and you move what’s good for California forward. I’m a family man first, I’m a Californian second, and third let’s talk party. And Gavin’s style of leadership is one ‘whether you like it or not’ this is the way it’s going to be. I think he’s thumbed his nose at the law and he says this is the way it’s going to be, I want to do it and moves forward.”

“A lot of the poles have been saying there’s a tide of opposition to the incumbent candidate. Does that worry you at all?” asked Lieszkovszky.

“People are very disappointed in government itself and I haven’t been on the job that long and I hope that the people afford me the opportunity to serve them," replied Maldonado. "I mean Gavin is also an incumbent; he’s the mayor of a city. I’ll put up my qualifications against Gavin’s also.”

Maldonado was appointed Lieutenant Governor less than half a year ago. Lieszkovszky asked him if he has any aspirations to run for Governor in the future.

“Right now I want to be the best Lt. Gov that California’s ever had as California’s 47th Lt. Gov and I’m hoping they give me four more years and I’d love to serve for four more years and work my heart out for the people of this great state and not go above the law and say ‘we’re going to do this whether you like it or not, just do what I think is right for the great state’ and let the voters decide," said Maldonado.

As for moving to Sacramento? Maldonado’s lived here for more than a decade now, and Newsom says San Francisco is pretty close, although moving isn’t out of the question.

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