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Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said yesterday that he's "open" to voting yes when the Assembly reconsiders whether to confirm Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado for the vacant lieutenant governor post.

"We've had a series of conversations where he softened me a bit," Pérez said in an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau.

"I'm like a lot of people in the Legislature," he added. "I was frustrated by some of the way I thought he operated through the politics of attraction. We've had some conversations about that. We've had some conversations about the future, I've given him some advice, waiting to see if he takes it, so I'm open."

Pérez was one of the lower house lawmakers who voted "no" when the Santa Maria Republican's first attempt at clearing the Assembly failed 37-35. Schwarzenegger has since re-nominated Maldonado for the vacant post, giving lawmakers until May 17 to confirm or reject his nomination.

Echoing comments made after his swearing-in ceremony, Pérez said it is up to Maldonado to find the four votes he needs to win approval in the Assembly.

"He's got to come back to me when he's ready for us to take it up," Pérez said. "I can't unilaterally approve him. He's got to get 41 votes."

The new speaker, who was vocal in his opposition to the governor's decision to reappoint Maldonado, seemed to have a lighter take on the confirmation saga Tuesday.

"I was working under the assumption I could make him one of the chairs of one of my committee," he joked, referring to his pledge to give Republican members the gavel of two committees this session.

Video by The Bee's Alan LaGuardia.


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