Abel Maldonado

RECENT POSTS

Election Road Trip: Maldonado Trying to Get Latinos to Go Republican

Democrat Lois Capps and Republican Abel Maldonado at a September debate sponsored by san luis Obispo times

In the Central Coast’s 24th Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Lois Capps is challenged by Republican Abel Maldonado. Here, both candidates are at a September debate sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Times. (Photo: Scott Shafer)

For the past two decades California has been tough political terrain for Republicans, in part because the state’s growing Latino population overwhelmingly supports Democrats.

On the Central Coast, Republican Congressional candidate Abel Maldonado is hoping his Mexican heritage will help bridge that divide by appealing to Latinos and independent voters. Maldonado, a former lieutenant governor, is the kind of candidate the Republican Party covets these days.

“My father and mother came to this country with nothing,” Maldonado says.

He’s the oldest son of migrant workers — Maldonado’s father came from Mexico in 1965 as a guest worker, eventually starting his own farm and growing it into a family business.

“The Republican Party has not done a good job of communicating with the fastest growing population in America, which happens to be Hispanics.”
At the age of 26, after a long battle with local bureaucrats over a permit for a refrigerated warehouse on the farm, Maldonado was elected to the Santa Maria City Council. He rose to higher office, in the Assembly and Senate, and was eventually appointed lieutenant governor by Arnold Schwarzenegger when the office became vacant.

“So just imagine me sitting next to my mother picking strawberries in the fields and becoming California’s 47th lieutentant governor,” the boyish 45-year-old says.

Maldonado lost his bid to remain Lieutenant Governor in an election against Gavin Newsom. But now he’s running in the 24th Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Lois Capps. The newly drawn seat is much more competitive than it was before redistricting. It would seem tailor-made for a moderate Republican businessman like Maldonado. Continue reading