While California Governor Jerry Brown may be riding high in the polls, some Golden State Republican's are still gunning for his job.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, former California Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado said he is strongly considering a run for the governor's office in 2014.
Maldonado, the son of immigrant farm workers who was elected mayor of the town of Santa Maria at the age of 28, could represent a new face for California's struggling GOP. The embattled party has been shut out of all statewide offices and faces major deficits in both houses of the legislature.
"There's no secret that California and this party, the GOP, is on the wrong path," Maldonado charged during a speech at the party's spring conference in Sacramento over the weekend. "So we need to get people to change. So, you know, we'll leave it at that."
One of those changes, as Maldonado suggested in a recent editorial in the Sacramento Bee, should be a new focus on immigration reform. "We all know that now is the time to stop shying away from the issue of immigration," he wrote. "We have almost 12 million people in America who don't have documentation, but who are working, and who have families--we need a temporary working permit with an earned path to citizenship."
Maldonado become California's highest-ranking Latino Republican official in 2009 when he was tapped to serve as Lieutenant Governor by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The following year, he was bested by Gavin Newsom.
The GOP's pivot toward increasingly courting Latinos, soon become the largest single population in California, comes at a time when that group has become largely turned off by the party's anti-undocumented immigrant rhetoric.
"Everyone is crystal clear that the Latino electorate is what we need to focus on," Errol Valladares, the state chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, told the San Luis Obispo Tribune at last weekend's conference.
Despite the moderate Maldonado's potential appeal to Latinos, taking on a sitting governor with a 57 percent approval rating is no easy task. However, Maldonado isn't backing down. The Chronicle reports:
Maldonado strongly rejected the idea that a challenge to Brown would be a GOP suicide mission.
"When I was picking strawberries and had no cool water in the fields, people said, 'That guy's on a suicide mission,'" he said. "Those are the prices you have to pay to achieve. ... Hard work? I'm not afraid of that."
Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton speculated that other possible contenders for the GOP nod include House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.
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