State Senator Abel Maldonado (R-15) represents as close to a competitive district as exists in California (Democrats outnumber Republicans 40% to 37% in registration, and John Kerry won the district in 2004, 53% to 46%). The Senator must be a happy man now that no Democratic candidate filed to run against him this November.
The Democratic Party needs to pick up two seats to reach a 2/3 majority in the State Senate. The decision not to run a candidate in SD 15 leaves Democratic hopes focused on the open seat of Tom McClintock (SD 19, 37% Democratic to 40% Republican) and the recall attempt aimed at Jeff Denham (SD 12, 46% Democratic to 36% Republican). George Bush won both districts in 2004, in SD 12 by a 51% to 48% margin and 50% to 48% in SD 19.
Senator Maldonado was first Republican to break with his Senate Republican colleagues in last year’s budget standoff. Now that he is guaranteed re-election, it will be interesting to see whether he takes a more hard-line position in this year’s budget debate.