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Maldonado Apologizes to Governor

July 14, 2006|Michael Finnegan | Times Staff Writer

The Legislature's top-ranking Latino Republican apologized to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday for questioning his loyalty to Latinos.

"The governor and I have worked together for the past three years on important issues beneficial to California's Latinos," state Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria said in a statement released by his office. "I will continue to support the governor in his efforts to strengthen California."

In remarks published Wednesday in The Times, Maldonado accused the Republican governor of showing "a lack of respect" to Latinos by spending too little time in Mexico. He also said: "Our governor cares about one thing only, and that's Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Schwarzenegger had irked Maldonado by declining to back him for state controller in last month's Republican primary election.

Maldonado, who lost, told The Times that Schwarzenegger also left him "holding the bag" on legislation by getting him to sponsor a bill to raise the minimum wage, a move that cost the lawmaker support among conservatives.

Maldonado made his remarks hours after the governor's appearance at a Mexican restaurant to introduce his reelection campaign's Latino "leadership team."

Katie Levinson, communications director for the Schwarzenegger campaign, said: "The senator's apology is accepted."

Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said Maldonado's "original sentiments are more in line with where most California Latinos are. They feel abandoned and rejected by this governor."

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