Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday appointed state Sen. Abel Maldonado to the position of Lt. Governor, an office vacated by John Garamendi, who left the job to become a U.S. Congressman.
Maldonado is a Republican from Santa Maria who was born to Mexican farm workers. He helped his parents grow their own strawberry farm into a major operation before becoming mayor of Santa Maria at 28. He's a known moderate who has voted against his party, including a nod for moving forward during the 2007 budget deadlock.
What we want to know is, is Schwarzenegger extending an olive branch to the state's more than 12 million Latinos? After all, this is a guy who once described Latino blood as "very hot" (he apologized), sided with the anti-illegal-immigrant Minutemen and who once complained to a group of Latino journalists that "so many Latinos speak Spanish all the time." (Latino immigrants stick to their language as much as other immigrants, studies have shown, and American-born Latinos speak English with rare exception).
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Is Maldonado his mea culpa?
"Senator Maldonado has proven he has the strength and courage it takes to reach across the partisan divide and put the interests of Californians first and he is absolutely the most qualified person to take on the role of Lieutenant Governor," stated Schwarzenegger.
Sounds like a start.