It was a small ceremony in the Governor’s press room at the state Capitol. Maldonado’s father, also named Abel, held the official leather-bound bible as Governor Schwarzenegger administered the oath:
I Abel Maldonado……
Maldonado said it was an emotional moment, and talked of a partnership with Governor Schwarzenegger:
“I could never repay you for the trust you put in me. All I can say to you, Governor is that every day I spend in the office of Lieutenant Governor, the people’s office, will be working to create jobs on behalf of every Californian.”
Maldonado is the only Hispanic currently holding statewide office. Schwarzenegger – himself an immigrant from Austria – says Maldonado’s story could only happen in America:
“Today the son of a Mexican migrant farm worker who grew up picking strawberries on a family farm, becomes the Lieutenant Governor of the great state of California.”
Maldonado’s 20-year old daughter Erica joined her three brothers, her mother and her grandparents to watch her father’s swearing in:
“I’m in shock. I really didn’t think we’d be here. My dad was a city council member when I was really small. We’re so happy to be here. We’re so proud of him.”
It’s been several months since the Governor first nominated Maldonado. The Assembly failed to confirm him in February, prompting the Governor to re-nominate him. And now there’s a new political squabble. Democrats are angry because Schwarzenegger has decided to call a special runoff election to fill Maldonado’s Senate seat. He has the option of consolidating the runoff with the November election, but a spokesman says Schwarzenegger wants to fill the seat sooner.
“It’s a bonehead move.”
Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg:
“Irresponsible to cost the taxpayers 2.5 million dollars when you can consolidate an election to November.”
Officials from three of the five counties affected by the Senate race have sent letters to the Governor, urging him to change his mind.