Maldonado, a moderate Republican in a state full of registered Democrats, wants to keep his job.
Maldonado, a former state senator from Santa Maria who was appointed to his current position by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this year, will face San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the November general election.
If Maldonado voted in favor of a tuition hike, Newsom would have pounced.
Instead, on June 18, Newsom only sent this statement to the press, never mentioning Maldonado:
"The decision made today by the CSU trustees to increase fees for students yet again is truly disappointing. The 5 percent increase is the seventh in eight years, and it is on top of the 32 percent increase just last year. The burden these hikes place upon the families of California is simply unacceptable, and we must do everything possible to relieve our middle class of the skyrocketing costs of higher education, which is necessary for the economic viability of our state. Other sources of revenue for the CSU system can and will be found by those willing to work on behalf on the nearly half-million CSU students."
It's not very hard-hitting stuff.
In fact, it lacks a certain kind of outrage that college students feel but the Newsom campaign is not reflecting.
Maldonado helped himself and dodged a bullet, but Newsom also shot something of a blank. The San Francisco mayor may need to tweak his message if he wants to win in November.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.