California Has a Budget -- and Abel Maldonado Gets his 'Date With Brad Pitt'

In exchange for his vote, Sen. Abel Maldonado required the political equivalent of a date with this man
When we last spoke with Assemblyman Tom Ammiano on Monday, he predicted a budget by that day or Wednesday at the latest. So, he was off by seven hours -- legislators obtained the Republican vote they needed at around 6:55 this morning.

Ammiano was also on the mark that the "conductor of the train" for the deal in the State Senate was Sen. Abel Maldonado, who provided the vote today that put the budget over the top. Ammiano noted that, back on Monday, everyone was on pins and needles anticipating Maldonado's next "ask" -- his first one being a request for both houses to vote on whether to institute an open primary in California. So, it was with interest that we read this paragraph in this morning's Chronicle article (filed, impressively, one minute after the vote was finalized):

Maldonado's demands included the removal of a proposed 12 cents a gallon gasoline tax, suspending hikes in pay and per diems for lawmakers when the state is facing budget deficits, and a ballot measure in June 2010 that asks voters whether they want open primaries.
The motives behind the senator's first two demands are clear enough. But readers may be left wondering what Maldonado or his constituents gain from an open primary. The answer to that question may be Abel Maldonado, State Controller. The senator representing the Los Gatos-Carmel-San Luis Obispo areas wants to run for the office, and feels that an open primary -- in which citizens can vote for the candidate of their preference regardless of party affiliation -- will help him win as a Republican in a state with precious few Republicans elected to statewide office. Certainly after Maldonado kicked sand in the faces of his party leaders this morning, he could use all the Democratic support he can get.

Ammiano called Maldonado's initial ask of a legislative vote on an open primary a stretch akin to requesting "a date with Brad Pitt." But, as the hours wore on, Pitt apparently looked more and more available. A ballot measure regarding an open primary may not qualify as a "date," but, perhaps, Maldonado has won the equivalent of a nice, chaperoned lunch with the actor. 

Let's hope they stay on budget.

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