By Miriam Raftery
October 8, 2010 – The Lieutenant Governor’s race has become a contentious battle with candidates trading pointed barbs. Both Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom have name recognition--and both have faced questions about their principles.
What does the Lt. Governor do—and why should voters care?
First, he’s a heartbeat away from the Governorship, a factor to consider if Jerry Brown, 72, wins the top spot. The Lt. Governor can sign bills when the Governor is out of state or incapacitated; Mike Curb, a Reublican Lt. Governor, wielded this power to the consternation of then-Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. The Lt. Governor also sits on the Board of Regents for the University of California , chairs the Council for Economic Development, and serves on other boards and commissions.
Newsom, a Democrat, is arguably the most liberal candidate running for a statewide office in California. As San Francisco’s mayor, he implemented universal healthcare for all uninsured city residents and has said he would support healthcare for all Californians. He began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, passed laws to help the homeless, and made San Francisco a sanctuary city where police and other city officials were banned from asking people for their immigration status. His eco-friendly record and opposition to offshore drilling earned him endorsements from the Sierra Club and California League of Conservation Voters despite his wife’s investment holdings in oil companies.
He is also a staunch advocate of strong public education—an important factor for a U.C. regents board member. “If we want our kids to leave their footprints in this world, we owe them a good education,” one campaign ad of Newsom’s reads.
Father of a young daughter, his family values have been called into question, however, by his past admission of an affair with a campaign worker. Plus his opponent has blasted Newsom as “too extreme for California.”
Maldonado, a Republican, was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to fill the vacancy left when former Lt. Governor John Garamendi won a Congressional seat.
Previously a member of the state Legislature and Santa Maria City Council, Maldonado says he is running as a fiscal conservative, is tough on crime, and believes in creating jobs by cutting taxes. He has a 100% record of voting in support of Chamber of Commerce backed positions.
The son of immigrant farmworkers who once picked strawberries, Maldonado now owns a 6,000 farm and says he has achieved "El Sueno Americano" -- the American dream.
But Maldonado drew ire from Republicans for breaking ranks and casting the only Republican vote in favor of a Democratic-backed budget that increased taxes —despite signing a “no new taxes” pledge. He’s also drawn criticism from education supporters because the budget he backed slashed education funding and contributed to a tripling of fees at California’s colleges and universities in recent years.
In a recent debate, the two candidates also clashed on environmental issues. Maldonado voted against AB 32, which restricts greenhouse gases and strengthens air pollution standards, also providing incentives for growth in green-tech industries. Maldonado called the measure a “shell.”
Newsom supports AB 32 and believes growth in green industries is the way to get California’s economy back on track and create jobs. “ In 2008, clean-tech venture capital investment in California hit $3.3 billion, fully 57 percent of the nation’s total,” his website notes.
Maldonado has also blasted Newsom’s support for gay marriage and voted against domestic partnerships. He has criticized the sanctuary city policy and faulted it for increasing crime.
For more information, visit the candidates’ websites at: