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Despite drama, donors give $50k to Maldonado

Maybe any publicity is better than no publicity after all.

Since the process began earlier this month to confirm him as lieutenant governor for what amounts to the rest of the year, state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, has been at the center of one of the more dramatic and bizarre legislative debates in recent memory.

After he sailed through Senate confirmation hearings, his bid was derailed by a mathematical technicality in the Assembly, only to be withdrawn and re-submitted by his “soul mate,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sick of the brouhaha, one lawmaker even drafted a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the office altogether.

But despite the drama swirling around him, the apparent misgivings of Maldonado's legislative colleagues haven't stopped him from raising nearly $50,000 for his campaign to take over the seat for a full term in the November elections.

Not that he's exactly rolling in the dough. His Republican rival for the post, state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, raised more than $135,000 last year. But Maldonado only officially formed his campaign committee last month, and even Aanestad has only raised $5,000 since Maldonado's hearings began.

Whoever comes out of the Republican primary this June will need all the money they can get to challenge a well-heeled Democratic field that includes state Sen. Dean Florez, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and possibly San Francisco Mayor and former gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom.


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