Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday said he would appoint Republican state Sen. Abel Maldonado to fill the vacant lieutenant governor's job, perhaps setting off a partisan squabble over his confirmation.
Maldonado, 42, of Santa Maria, has been one of the few GOP allies the Republican governor has in the Legislature. He provided a key vote this year to help Democrats and Schwarzenegger push through tax increases and a budget plan over the objections of most Republican lawmakers.
In a statement, Schwarzenegger said Maldonado would be a "true partner" in push the governor's agenda.
"Sen. Maldonado has proven he has the strength and courage it takes to reach across the partisan divide and put the interests of Californians first, and he is absolutely the most qualified person to take on the role of lieutenant governor," Schwarzenegger said.
His appointment to the slot left open by the election of Democrat John Garamendi to Congress earlier this month sets up a potentially difficult confirmation fight in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Under the constitution, lawmakers have 90 days to act on Maldonado's appointment. If either the Assembly or the Senate rejects him on a majority vote, he will remain in the Senate and the governor would have the option of finding a new nominee or leaving the job vacant. If the two houses approve Maldonado on a majority vote — or fail to act within 90 days — he would fufill the final year of Garamendi's term.
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