The second time was the charm for Republican State Sen. Abel Maldonado. Two months after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's nominee to fill the position of lieutenant governor was bounced by the state Assembly
, that same body yesterday approved him by a 54-20 margin
. Yet one of the most emphatic no votes was cast by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who, unlike his colleagues, saw no reason to change his position this time 'round.
"No, one thing, I'm consistent. I still think the guy is a dog," Ammiano said. "Lipstick on a pig. It doesn't matter."
And yet, in some ways, it does matter. By approving Maldonado now rather than in February, Ammiano believes state Democrats have improved the odds of Democrat John Laird
, the likely nominee to run for the senate seat Maldonado will vacate to assume the lieutenant governor position.
"By waiting so long, now a Democrat has a better shot at filling [Maldonado's] seat, which would be great," affirmed Ammiano. "You know, the special election would now be held in August [or possibly September], then the runoff would be in November, our regular election month. That would help Mr. Laird in pursuit of Maldonado's seat." State Sen. Mark Leno also concurred that placing the election for the vacant seat on the regular November ballot would "without a doubt" be a big advantage for the Democratic challenger -- and would save taxpayers millions over a summer special election.
When asked if it was right to base decisions on such overt political formulas, Ammiano replied that "Right or wrong is very fuzzy in Sacramento. I'm pretty grounded, I'm older, I come from San Francisco; it's not much of a struggle for me about what I think is moral, right, or wrong. In the climate and culture of Sacramento, it is quite different. This is something I think that the Democratic Party, this election, it's to their advantage to have it in November."
Ammiano also referred to the position of lieutenant governor as "a weenie office," and predicted Maldonado would give San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom " a real race."
Maldonado now requires approval from the state senate -- which approved him in February, making that outcome a near formality. That vote could come as early as Monday.