And with that, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put his arm around Abel Maldonado today, and pushed the Republican back out into the political free-for-all over his nomination to be California's next lieutenant governor.
Schwarzenegger's decision to withdraw the original Maldo nomination and submit a brand new one does two things: it resets the clock on how long the Legislature has to act, and it reignites the questions for Assembly Democrats about whether they have enough votes to end all speculation -- one way or the other -- about Maldo's fate.
The governor's afternoon news conference at the state Capitol was short and to the point: the guy is "qualified and capable."
Schwarzenegger zeroed in on Dems in the Assembly for what happened last week, calling it "hyperpartisanship at its worst." And, clearly enjoying the fact that many of the state's opinion writers are on his side on this one, the governor began quoting the various newspaper jabs at last week's 'not-enough-yes-and-maybe-not-enough-no votes' drama.
"There were no good reasons, no valid reasons, to oppose this nomination," he said.
Of course, Dems in the lower house saw things very differently last week. In particular, I asked Schwarzenegger today to respond to the accusations of two Democrats who spoke in opposition to Maldonado -- namely, that the Guv should have appointed a 'caretaker' to be lieutenant governor and not a Republican who planned to run for the job as the sitting incumbent in this year's elections.
"We don't go by those rules," said the governor. "It has to be someone that is really the best."
The Maldo Redo now gives the Legislature until May 17 to either reject or accept (by vote or by non-action) the 'lite guv' nominee. That timeline now stretches way into budget negotiation season... way past next month's filing deadline for elective office... and within sight of the June 8 primary. And unclear at this juncture is whether the Senate -- which voted to confirm Maldonado -- would weigh in again, or leave the issue for the Assembly.
The Assembly leadership believes they actually rejected Maldo last week (a legal battle that the governor has decide to sidestep), but now they have to vote again, or else allow the nominee to take office at the end of 90 days.
And when asked why he thought things would be any different this time around, Schwarzenegger dipped into his Hollywood past one more time: "I'm a big believer that sequels can be better than the original... T2, get the DVD, you will see."