Abel Maldonado cites political experience

Abel Maldonado said Thursday that he’s the more experienced candidate for lieutenant governor in what figures to be a well-publicized race against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Maldonado, a Republican from Santa Maria, is currently the highest-ranking Hispanic in political office in California.

He won the GOP primary Tuesday for the lieutenant governor seat that he has held since his appointment by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in April. He will face off against Newsom in the November general election.

Maldonado cited his experience as the former state assemblyman and senator for the Central Coast, as well as his background leading his family’s farming business.

“My message is one of being reasonable, pragmatic and being the best person for the lieutenant governor in California,” Maldonado said.

He said his priorities for the state include creating “jobs, jobs, jobs” and reducing the partisanship in Sacramento.

Maldonado said his experience will be necessary if the lieutenant governor is called upon to take over for the governor when that person is out of state or incapacitated.

Newsom, a former restaurateur who is serving his second term as San Francisco’s mayor, has cited his health care, job creation and environmental record.

But perhaps he’s best known for his advocacy for same-sex marriage.

Tuesday marked another victory for Maldonado — the passage of Proposition 14.

It requires that candidates run in a single primary open to all registered voters, with the top two vote-getters meeting in a runoff.

Opponents of the new law say it will hurt the chances of minor and independent party candidates in political races.

Maldonado said it will help moderates to operate more independently of political party bosses.

“We’re always going to have liberals and always have conservatives,” Maldonado said. “I want the system to change its behavior, and become more open-minded and reasonable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.