Even as Sen. Abel Maldonado was being nominated Tuesday to serve as lieutenant governor, Democratic leaders expressed doubts about confirming him.
"It may be both fiscally and politically prudent to permit the people to make their own selection for this state office next year to avoid the expense of a costly special election," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a written statement.
Steinberg's reaction signals that the appointment of Maldonado, who angered members of his own party this year by voting to raise taxes, is no slam-dunk to be confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had announced Monday on "The Jay Leno Show" that Maldonado was his pick, made it official Tuesday at a 20-minute Los Angeles press conference.
The Republican governor described Maldonado as a pragmatist, a reformer and "a model of postpartisanship."
"He always chooses the people of California over politics," Schwarzenegger said.
Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, would be the only Latino in statewide office. He also would be the first GOP Latino in more than 130 years to hold a statewide post.
The 42-year-old lawmaker, whose family owns a 6,000-acre farm, said he has fulfilled the American Dream by rising from humble beginnings as the son of a U.S. immigrant to be nominated to the post of lieutenant governor in the nation's most populous state.
"All I can say is, only in America," Maldonado said.
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