By way of consolation, we’re delivering a big bouquet of blossoms hand-picked in Santa Maria to Abel Maldonado, who is not bound for Washington, D.C., after all.
The Santa Maria Republican, who began his political career on the Santa Maria City Council and went on to serve in the state Legislature and as lieutenant governor, had been in the running to head the Department of Agriculture.
Maldonado had interviewed at Mar-A-Lago in December and was in Washington, D.C., early this week, where he proudly posted a photo of a bottle of Trump champagne. He also posted a short video of his hotel suite on Twitter.
Maldonado had strong support from many Californians, especially on the Central Coast. He was often referred to as a “real farmer.” Ultimately, though, President Donald Trump selected former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the head of the USDA.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was among those expressing disappointment in Trump’s choice for the USDA.
“Obviously, the choice wasn’t based on substance,” he said through a spokesman, according to Politico.
Who knows? Maybe Maldonado’s ties to Schwarzenegger wound up hurting him. Trump has famously feuded with our former movie-star governor, who stepped into Trump’s role on “The Apprentice.”
Trump did not give him a great review: “Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT …” he wrote on Twitter earlier this month.
“But who cares, he supported Kasich & Hillary,” the president added.
To his credit, Maldonado took his rejection graciously, offering this statement to the new administration:
“I want to personally thank President Elect Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, and chairman Priebus for the opportunity to interview and consider me as his Secretary Of Agriculture, the process was honorable, thorough and transparent, America can be rest assured that the USDA will be in good hands with Governor Sonny Perdue, if I can assist with Governor Purdue confirmation I will and I look forward to working with him on anything he may need.”