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Debate Over Lieutenant Governor Choice Continues

Debate Over Lieutenant Governor Choice Continues
The drama over Governor Schwarzenegger's choice for lieutenant governor continues at the state capitol. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

The drama over Governor Schwarzenegger's choice for lieutenant governor continues at the state capitol. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy. Hey Leo.

LEO MCELROY: Good morning.

ALISON ST JOHN: We're glad to have you back from South America.

MCELROY: It's wonderful to be back.

ST JOHN: Good, well, the State Assembly did not have the 41 votes needed to confirm Republican State Senator Abel Maldonado last week. The governor said he would swear him in anyway, but why did he end up withdrawing Maldonado's nomination altogether.

MCELROY: Well, there was a legal question as to whether the vote, which was 37-35 for confirmation, constituted an actual action by the legislature. The governor's contention was that they really hadn't acted because they had not voted 41 votes one way or the other, to confirm or deny. And therefore, they had not acted within the 90 days required by the Constitution, and he was entitled to swear him in. The problem is the Assembly legal experts say pretty clearly that if he didn't get 41 votes to confirm, he was denied, the Assembly did act and that the swearing in would work. The governor talked about going to court, he decided not to, and then pulled the rabbit out of the hat. Withdraw the nomination, renominate him, and start the 90 day clock all over again.

PAMELA DAVIS: So, when -- how does that work, the renomination?

MCELROY: Well, basically what he does is say 'Okay, I'm withdrawing Abel Maldonado's nomination so forget it, and then prompty renominates the same guy, and in the governor's theory, and I think most theories hold with this, the legislature now has 90 days again to act on the nomination. Either they refuse to nominate, or they approve the nomination, or they fail to act within 90 days in which case Abel Maldonado becomes the lieutenant governor. The one response in the legislature that's interesting, and it's beind done very quietly, is the introduction of a constitutional amendment to illuminate the office of lieutenant governor. Give the duties to the secretary of state, and end the controversy one way or the other. But of course, that would take a long time to happen. It's not going to solve this particular little skirmish.

ST JOHN: Okay, so former eBay CEO Meg Whitman is still spending millions of dollars of her own money on her gubernatorial campaign, but there are several independent groups coming out against her. What are they criticizing?

MCELROY: Well, these are the groups that are out there doing what Jerry Brown would be doing were he declared candidate running for governor, which he isn't yet. He's sitting back above the fray enjoying himself, so these groups have formed together, largely driven by labor unions, and they will go on the attack against Meg Whitman. The concern is that she's spending millions to build her own reputation and to strengthen her image to the publick, and it's going out there uncontested, there's nobody out there saying 'Oh yeah, well you didn't do this, you didn't do that.' So they're going after her. Three different groups, three different tacks. One attack is going to be to attack her record as the eBay CEO. Another record is going to be -- or another attack is going to be to go after her proposals, and point out that they tend to be pretty vague and not very detailed. Meg's campaign pitch so far has been create jobs, and cut a lot of government spending by cutting a lot of employees, and somebody's got to ask how are you going to do that. It's a nice promise but how does that happen. And that's going to be the job of this independent expenditure committee.

DAVIS: Well, we'll have to see what happens. Non-partisan political consultant Leo McElroy, thank you for joining us this morning.

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