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Local News

Maldonado Exploring Run for Congress Against Capps

Former lieutenant governor and longtime legislator from Santa Maria files early campaign paperwork

Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who lost a hard-fought race to keep the job last November, reportedly is contemplating a run for Congress next year against Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

Maldonado, a 43-year-old Santa Maria Republican, was appointed lieutenant governor by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010 after his predecessor, Democrat John Garamendi, was elected to Congress. Maldonado lost to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the November election.

According to The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, the Federal Elections Commission on Friday confirmed that Maldonado has filed the necessary paperwork to form an exploratory committee and begin collecting money.

Maldonado could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Capps is serving her seventh two-year term in Congress after winning a special election to succeed her late husband, Rep. Walter Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who died in office in 1997.

Capps currently represents the 23rd Congressional District, a narrow strip that runs mostly along the coastline in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. The voter-approved Citizens Redistricting Commission will begin redrawing congressional boundaries later this year based on fresh data from the 2010 census, and the 23rd District — widely acknowledged as one of the most heavily gerrymandered districts in the country — almost certainly will be modified.

Before being appointed lieutenant governor, Maldonado served one term in the state Senate and three terms in the Assembly. He is a former Santa Maria mayor and councilman, and he sought the 2006 Republican nomination for state controller but lost in the primary to now state Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks, whose district includes Santa Barbara County’s South Coast.

One of Schwarzenegger’s few Republican allies in the Legislature, Maldonado often took positions at odds with his party’s legislative priorities. In 2009, he provided the key vote as Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislators pushed through a $14 billion tax increase to help reverse California’s then-$42 billion budget deficit.

Ashley Schapitl, a Capps spokeswoman, told The Tribune that Capps is “prepared for a competitive race regardless of who her opponents will be.”

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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