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Abel Maldonado: Senator from Central Coast is No. 2 in command

State Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, smiles as he is sworn-in as the state's 47th Lieutenant Governor by Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger, right, as his wife, Laura, and father, Abel Maldonado, Sr. second from right  look on, at the Capitol in  Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, April 27, 2010.  Maldonado replaces Democrat John Garamendi, who was elected to Congress last fall. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
State Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, smiles as he is sworn-in as the state's 47th Lieutenant Governor by Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger, right, as his wife, Laura, and father, Abel Maldonado, Sr. second from right look on, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Maldonado replaces Democrat John Garamendi, who was elected to Congress last fall. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) AP

SACRAMENTO — Abel Maldonado was sworn in Tuesday as California’s lieutenant governor, becoming the only Hispanic in statewide office and leaving vacant the Central Coast state Senate seat.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger swore in the former 15th District state senator during a ceremony in the Capitol, as Maldonado’s father held the Bible.

The Republican from Santa Maria, who represented San Luis Obispo County in the Senate, called his confirmation an amazing story. Maldonado is the son of Mexican immigrants and recalled picking strawberries by his mother’s side 30 years ago.

Maldonado, 42, will fill in for Schwarzenegger when the governor is out of state.

The post has been vacant since November, when Democrat John Garamendi was elected to Congress.

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