Abel Maldonado dividing point among Republicans

June 28, 2012

Abel Maldonado

OPINION By STEVE BARTOWSKI

The Republican Party has a long history of bloodying each other in heated contests and coming together supporting its nominees. In the days before Proposition 14 created the “top-two” primary system, party voters would determine the their party’s nominee during their partisan primaries, and the party organizations would then fall into line to support those winning nominees.

That process is now more complicated and controversial post-Prop 14. Now the County Central Committees and State Party have to make endorsements ahead of the voters to try and avoid splitting the vote in the primary. Normally, the candidates with incumbency, experience, name recognition, and capital are locks for these endorsements, but not so for former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, author of Prop 14, who has become a political lightning rod in the endorsement process he helped create.

During the early parts of the primary, Maldonado became a darling of the National Republican Congressional Committee and nationally popularized Republican Congressmen Darrell Issa and Kevin McCarthy, who viewed Abel’s name recognition and large fundraising war chest as the best opportunity to take a trophy seat from long-time liberal Democrat Lois Capps.

However, Maldonado is all but universally reviled the closer he gets to his own district, especially amongst conservative voters, where his tie-breaking budget vote as State Senator ushered in the largest tax increase in California history, and his positions on oil drilling, the DREAM Act, and the 2nd Amendment rights put him at odds with large swaths of his own partisan constituents.

Until his run for Congress and even up through the primary, Maldonado was cool to even receiving his own party’s support, declaring “I’m not looking for the endorsement of any small political groups that are out there, I’m looking for the endorsement of the people of the 24th Congressional District.” Maldonado even went as to rally behind New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg in his campaign for a “No Labels Party”, and drafted Proposition 14 intentionally in hopes of muting partisan politics and ushering in a new era of moderate politicians. It was a move that drew the ire of the California Republican Party, which unsuccessfully fought Prop 14 during the 2010 election.

Hard feelings remained after, where party leaders viewed the new law as a slap in the face to Republican voters and a further weakening of CRP’s ability to organize for elections.

In a move expressing that disdain, the central committee of the Santa Barbara County Republican Party in March made a surprising move forgoing Maldonado’s stronger branding and fundraising, and publicly endorsed Abel’s conservative Republican challenger Christopher Mitchum.

The committees in charge of San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties also leaned against Maldonado despite lacking the votes necessary to endorse either candidate. The move created waves within the Republican Party, where the NRCC was forced to pull their initial endorsement of Maldonado, and CRP decided to sit on the fence while their two Republican nominees fought it out alone for the top spot in June.

However, when Abel still bested his conservative rival in the primary, Republicans were left with only one challenger to go up against Capps. After a primary where only one Republican remains, endorsements are usually little more than a rubber-stamping formality.

But at the June meeting of the Santa Barbara County Republican Central Committee this week, a firestorm erupted over the Maldonado endorsement. Abel and supporters demanded party unity going into a tight election, and scolded holdouts as being poor losers or supporters of Capps. Those holdouts came from conservative members, many affiliated with the Tea Party and Liberty Movement, who argued Maldonado’s history and policies stood too far apart from Republican Party principles to allow conscionable support.

After an hour of heated and aggressive debate and numerous chaotic parliamentary motions and votes, Maldonado sat stunned as the final votes were tallied and he fell well short of those necessary to gain the endorsement of his own local party. To make matters more embarrassing for the Maldonado campaign, in a power move by Abel supporters backfired when they attempted to coerce dissenters into support through a bundled endorsement vote of Maldonado combined with Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken. But opposition to Maldonado remained adamantly opposed, and the move cost the other candidates their endorsements as well.

Supporters of Maldonado were outraged and planned a re-vote for the following meeting in July. There are now threats of discipline, potentially removal from the board, for members who dissented. Sources close to the Maldonado campaign say he plans to meet some of these members directly to try and sway their votes. Pressure will be further piled on opponents as Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and outgoing Senator Sam Blakeslee are rumored to be planning on attending to voice their support for Maldonado and Party Unity as well, or at the least influence the outcome directly by their votes as ex-officios.

There is upset within the Tea Party movement as well, where members view the Capps versus Maldonado showdown as a lose-lose scenario. Both rival Christopher Mitchum and 2010 Capps challenger Tom Watson are also withholding their endorsement of Maldonado. At the July meeting, Maldonado may win his Central Committee’s endorsement, but no matter the outcome, the vote reflects an enormous divide Maldonado has to overcome within his own base before he can even think about taking on Democrats this November.

Steve Bartowski lives in Orcutt.


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20 Comments

  1. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    Let me say that I am not a big Abel Maldonado fan. Everything negative that has been stated here by previous posters – his ego, his naked political ambition, his selling out his conservative backers – is all true.

    But there is an overriding issue at stake.

    Lois Capps has an incredibly anti-Semitic voting record and has been a staunch foe of Israel at least since 2002. She supported a 2002 Congressional measure calling for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities and condemning the “Israeli campaign against the PA”. She has spoken passionately against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and in 2007 took to the House floor to “voice her disappointment” with a Congressional Resolution commemorating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling it “empty rhetoric.” She refused to support a bi-partisan missive in 2008 reaffirming the US-Israeli alliance. Her pro-Palestinian stance has earned her favorable ratings from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American-Arab Institute, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation which has placed her in its Congressional “Hall of Fame.”

    And of course she was the lone vote against a resolution condemning Iran for giving the death penalty to a Christian pastor for being a Christian. She falsely claimed it as a “mistake” and that she “pressed the wrong button.” Really?

    We can all disagree about domestic policy. But we cannot have a person who is so virulently anti-Semitic and pro- radical Muslim (note I said RADICAL Muslim) in Congress when the Middle East situation is so unsettled. With the ascension of the radical Muslim Brotherhood; with Iran’s growing nuclear arsenal,being placed deep underground in thick impermeable bunkers; with with the very real fear in Israel that it will be attacked by Iran; and with American credibility at its lowest level there despite Obama’s efforts to reach out to the Muslims there, the last thing we need is a representative in Congress who is part of a small virulent radical anti-Israeli and anti-Christian minority that wields a lot of power just by its outspokenness. This weakens our position abroad and frankly is an embarrassment to me as one of her constituents.

    Even the Democrat Platform restated its support for Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Lois Capps, remember, is against this “empty rhetoric.”

    We need a more mainstream candidate. Maybe in 2014 we will get one. A vote for Abel is a vote for a better Democrat next time.

    (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  2. Downtown Bob says:

    I cannot stand un-Able! I would rather have Lois Capps in office and I will vote for her over Able! At least we know where she will fall on issues, she will be sure and tell you…but Able will probably vote pretty much the same way anyways. Capps 2012!

    (0) 12 Total Votes - 6 up - 6 down
  3. Myself says:

    I’m no big fan of Able, he is as mentioned a suck up and a me only type of guy and I would say there has been plenty of shady dealings at the packing plant in Santa Maria, and you don’t build a multi million dollar farming operation in the middle of town from being a pea picker it doesn’;t happen that way, with that being said we the people don’t have much of a choice between the two, Caps and Maldo, but I am tired of Caps socialist leanings, she wants to help turn this country into a nanny state, its half way there already, she leans to the green side way too much and this is hurting us, green jobs are a farce, take for instance the solar plants in the Carissa Plains, taxpayer money wasted again. OPn the other hand Maldo hasn’t done us any favors either, with his swing vote and trying to climb the govt ladder too quickly hasn’t helped his district, but, but I’m willing to vote for him cause I’m tired of the lefty Caps, we could give the pea picker a chance and vote him out next time if some one better comes along, with Caps in there no one wants to take a run at it.

    (-2) 10 Total Votes - 4 up - 6 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Don’t vote for either of them. Vote for the Libertarian.

      (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  4. Disgusted says:

    I bet you’re best friends with Nancy Pelosi too.

    (-2) 10 Total Votes - 4 up - 6 down
  5. bobfromsanluis says:

    While I cannot imagine sitting in a room with that many Republicans, many of them apparently rabid, it certainly would have been priceless to see the look on Abel’s face when the final vote was tallied and his endorsement was rejected. Damn.

    (-4) 24 Total Votes - 10 up - 14 down
  6. pasoparent5 says:

    Abel’s conduct is one of the reasons I switched from a registered Repub to an Indep. The guy started out pretty good, IMO, then became waaaay too big for his Santa Maria britches. He flip-flopped on too many issues & became a RINO. His sucking up to Arnold was the last straw for me. I’ll throw away my vote on a Libertarian candidate before I’d vote for Lois OR Abel.

    (19) 23 Total Votes - 21 up - 2 down
    • Paso_citizen says:

      Hit the nail right on the head. Abel has seen the very big benefits of being in politics and his ego will not let him not do what he is doing. A ten-gallon hat would be too small. His ‘short’ tenure as this
      states Lt. Gov (obtained by the affore mentioned sucking up to the Terminator) got his “get mine while I can” juices flowing like a raging river. He is too into himself to realize otherwise.

      Capps may not be very good (in fact she isn’t), but electing Abel would be a much worse mistake.
      His sights are on something else – 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. God help us all.

      (10) 24 Total Votes - 17 up - 7 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      I have to congratulate you on selecting candidates so obviously to your liking.

      I also like that metaphor : “His sucking up to Arnold was the last straw …”

      (-3) 17 Total Votes - 7 up - 10 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Voting for a Libertarian is not throwing away your vote. Any follower of Mises and Rothbard is certainly worthy of anybody’s vote, unless that person thinks that this police state we live in is a fine thing.

      (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  7. The Gimlet Eye says:

    D’s and R’s; NO SUBSTANTIVE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM.

    (-12) 32 Total Votes - 10 up - 22 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      WOW ! ALL CAPS !

      The level of your uncaring must be quite vehement !

      (-10) 28 Total Votes - 9 up - 19 down
  8. Slowerfaster says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!

    REPUBLICANS keep finding new ways to commit political suicide.

    Moldy- nachos ? Kevin McCarthy, the sandwich slicer ? Darrell issa , the car thief ?

    You guys really now how to pick ’em !

    NIXON !
    Republicans are fascist doorknobs !

    (-19) 55 Total Votes - 18 up - 37 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Let’s see what was Capp’s experience? Oh that’s right her husband who was the rep died and all of a sudden she was qualified. So if your Dr. dies next week are you going to go see their spouse, seeing as they were married to the Dr.?

      For clarity Andrea Seastrand did the same thing and that was B.S. too!!

      (7) 43 Total Votes - 25 up - 18 down
      • Slowerfaster says:

        So, Do you live in a time capsule ?

        Lois Capps has been a representative for TWELVE YEARS. She has been RE-ELECTED …for good cause, against a BASKETBALL team of LOSERS !

        AGNEW ! QUAYLE ! BACHMANN ! ROMNEY ! CHENEY !

        Republicans nominated rich , er…Business Queens last time in California.
        That pinch-faced THIEF and company killer Carl Fiorina, and the 160 million dollar money toilet Megabuxx Whitman, who is now in process of destroying Hewlett Packard !

        What political experience do / did they have?

        Yeah, you sure can pick ’em !

        HOOVER ! HARDING ! DEWEY !

        (-8) 48 Total Votes - 20 up - 28 down
        • zaphod says:

          HARRY S. TRUMAN

          (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
          • Slowerfaster says:

            Harry Truman was a farmer. His father committed suicide with a pitchfork.
            Harry entered WWI underage by putting a piece of paper under his hat and lying about his age just like my grandfather did.
            Grandad and Harry became friends. GF was a DI at Camp Grant. Harry became a Captain. and made lifelong friendships,
            They went separate ways, but remained friends.
            Grampa was one of the first motorcycle cops and State Police in the nation. Personal bodyguard for Illinois governor Henry Horner.

            Meanwhile. Harry Truman went into the haberdashery business…JUST in time for the Great Depression.

            He went bankrupt, because REPUBLICAN ECONOMICS are SHIT !

            Republicans are STEALERS, KILLERS and LIARS !

            Harry Truman KNEW this,and had NO PROBLEM telling Republicans JUST HOW FULL of unadulterated BULLSHIT they were full of ALL THE TIME !

            That’s why Republicans HATED Harry Truman. and why REAL Americans consider him the BEST American President of ALL -TIME

            (-10) 32 Total Votes - 11 up - 21 down
            • Moderator says:

              Can we have less (way less) all caps invective? please?
              Our readers are not the drones you are looking for.

              abuse – vituperation – insult
              just won’t do it anymore.
              if you have a ??? or a !!!
              moderator@Calcoastnews.com
              I cannot over emphasize the utility of email. comments directed to or about the moderation are removed.

              (14) 14 Total Votes - 14 up - 0 down
              • easymoney says:

                Thanks mods, this type of insulting verbal abuse has nothing to do with any of the topics or discussions, it is purely personal and hateful…

                (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down

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