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Maldonado, Newsom face off for lieutenant gov

October 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The campaign for California's lieutenant governor has been a bitter fight. An exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by SurveyUSA shows Democratic San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom with a lead over Republican incumbent Abel Maldonado 43 percent to 37 percent. The remaining 20 percent prefer another candidate or have yet to decide.Gavin Newsom is known for granting marriage licenses to gay couples in 2004. Abel Maldonado is a former three-term state senator known for voting against his own party to balance the budget last year.

Both are campaigning hard to be the next lieutenant governor. The number two man in the state sits on the boards of University of California and California State University regents, and heads up several environmental commissions.

Newsom says his record proves he's the right man for the job.

"Every major environmental organization in California has endorsed my candidacy. There's not a city in this state that has done more to advance clean energy than the city and county of San Francisco," said Newsom.

Maldonado says when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was out of town, he stepped in to direct the response to the San Bruno gas explosion and he signed the bill refunding millions of dollars to overtaxed Bell residents.

"I've done a lot. I think the job of lieutenant governor should remain in place. It is succession of power. I don't know of any big business that doesn't have a number two," said Maldonado.

The two candidates have had their share of controversy.

A recent report revealed Maldonado's family farm in Santa Maria had dozens of safety violations since 1990 and was fined when a farm worker was killed.

Maldonado responded to the report on a recent Eyewitness Newsmakers.

"We grow good, safe produce for the American people, but there's always, sometimes there's missteps and you get a violation, just like I'm sure if you own a restaurant, I'm sure there's violations," said Maldonado.

Newsom has been criticized for investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in offshore drilling, including the same company linked to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Newsom says it was never his money.

"That was my wife's, completely independent of me. My wife has a trust and they made that investment," said Newsom.

The lieutenant governor will chair the state's economic development commission. Both candidates are promising to make job creation a priority.

"I'm someone who's a very pragmatic person. I've had to actually govern. I'm open to argument and interested in evidence. I'm not an ideologue. I come from the private sector. I've created over a thousand jobs," said Newsom.

"I'm a family man. I'm a Californian, and I want to create jobs. I want to come up with some fresh ideas to move this great state forward," said Maldonado.

On November 2, voters will decide who will be the best man for this job.