In his first press conference as Assembly speaker, John A. Pérez shied away from taking a stance on the fate of embattled lieutenant governor nominee Sen. Abel Maldonado, telling reporters that the governor's pick has "got to go and find his 41 votes."
"The ball's in his court right now," he said, pledging to not let the ongoing confirmation battle distract his house "from the real work we need to do" on finding budget solutions and jump-starting job creation.
Alert readers keeping an eye on the ticking "lite guv" confirmation clock know that the Legislature is now facing a May 17 deadline for confirming or rejecting Maldonado for the post. Pérez said he wasn't going to rush Maldonado into a vote.
"I've given him some advice that I think will help him," said Perez, who was among the "No" votes when Maldonado fell four votes short of clearing the Assembly last month. "But there's a little more work for him to do, and we will take him up in due course."
Pérez refused to elaborate on his advice, saying it was a private conversation.
"You should ask him," he told reporters when pressed on what Maldonado still had to do to ensure a thumbs-up from the lower house.
So we did.
"The only agreement we have is that the mid-year correction is more important than my confirmation," Maldonado said, referrng to the special session budget work. "Once we have got the mid-year correction complete then I expect the Assembly to take up my confirmation vote."
He said he agreed with Pérez's advice, which was to "Let cooler minds cool down."
"I really believe that as cooler minds cool down a little bit, I think we'll have a vote soon and I hope we'll have one that's hopefully positive in my way, and a bipartisan one," Maldonado said.
Maldonado said he hoped to see the Assembly move forward with a vote as soon as next week, when the Legislature is expected to wrap up work on the budget corrections.
"I think we've had plenty of time to discuss my confirmation. Vote me up or vote me down. Let's move on," he said.