Maldo's Uber Sales Pitch

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Unless something incredibly crazy happens, here's the first and only campaign prediction you'll see on this newsblog: Proposition 1F is going to pass on May 19. Big time.

The last public poll showed a whopping 81% of voters surveyed like the measure to deny pay raises for elected officials in bad budget years for the state. Shocking, no?

But the foregone conclusion feeling surrounding Prop 1F begs the question... what is state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) really selling on his new campaign website? The answer: a lot.

The Republican became the most talked about state legislator in California this winter, when he provided the final crucial vote in the state Senate for the $41 billion budget deficit deal. And as we all know, that vote came attached to a substantial wish list: two statewide ballot measures plus the removal of some of the package's tax increases.

Since then, Maldo has used his position in the budget solution to try and catapault over the party politics system; even our friends at NPR profiled the son of immigrants in a piece that aired yesterday.

Today, the senator unveiled a new website in support of Prop 1F. As they say in infomercial land... but wait, there's more! The website also includes a push for the second budget deal ballot measure, the modified political primary measure that will appear on the June 2010 ballot.

The website isn't that unusual in the world of politics, making its point with a photo of a cookie jar (that ostensibly greedy pols keep dipping into, right?) and a hyperlink listing the salaries of legislators.

But what is striking is the six minute campaign video featuring the two-term senator from the Central Coast, a video of him making his pitch for fixing what ails government.

"Our state is now just a punchline for late night comedians," says the senator as he stands in front of California's historic capitol in Monterey. "We can take our state back from the hyperpartisans," he goes on to say.

It's worth noting that at one point (about 3:45 in), the video flashes to a group of photos labeled as "California Republican Party Bosses" and "California Democratic Party Bosses." Only one -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) -- is an elected official. One of the Dems is state party campaign adviser Bob Mulholland; one of the GOP folks is former congressman John Doolittle, while another is blogger and party official Jon Fleischman. Interesting choices on all sides. The graphic is used several times.

"I have staked my political career on fighting all the wrongs within our political system," he says. "And by doing so, I've made enemies in both political parties."

One of Maldo's assertions in the video doesn't really hold up. He says about the need for Prop 1F: "Politicians should not be able to reward themselves with a pay raise while California is billions of dollars in debt. But under current law, politicians can, and they do, when there's billions of dollars of debt."

That's only partly true. There have been pay raises... but the elected officials don't control their salaries. The California Citizens Compensation Commisson has been setting salaries -- independently of the elected officials -- ever since voters approved a ballot measure in 1990. Contrary to Maldo's assertion, legislators and constitutional officers don't play a part in this, though they can -- and some have -- voluntarily rejected salary hikes.

The video, and the Prop 1F campaign, are clearly a preview of Maldonado's expected second effort to win a statewide office, having lost a GOP primary in 2006 for controller. Will it work? Stay tuned.

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About John Myers

John Myers is Sacramento Bureau Chief for KQED Public Radio and "The California Report," heard daily on 23 public radio stations across the Golden State.

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