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Abel Maldonaldo is a Republican in the truest sense
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Finally someone gets it.

The San Francisco Chronicle in a story on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's nomination of Abel Maldonado to replace John Garamendi as lieutenant governor quotes GOP consultant Patrick Dorinson who made a rather astute observation of what ails the California Republican Party leadership.

Dorinson is quoted as saying "I'm tired of seeing the Orange County and Placer County axis try to run the Republican Party in this state. They should be happy to get a Latino Republican in the job."

State Sen. Maldonado is the moderate Santa Maria Republican who broke ranks with his party and voted for the state budget package in September. Maldonado will be the first to tell you it wasn't a perfect budget but it certainly was better than being driven closer to the abyss which was the only plan the Republican leadership seemed to have at the time.

The Republican Party in California has been taken over by intolerant political leaders who have managed to wrap themselves in a cloth coat not of conservatism but of gamesmanship.

If you don't pass their litmus test of agreeing with their narrow view of conservative politics then you are a RINO - a Republican in name only.

Ronald Reagan - the man the state Republican Party leadership claims to idolize - was pragmatic. He put California first and actually raised taxes three times when it was needed to keep the state healthy and the economy humming which meant people on the bottom had a chance to feed their families and to climb up the ladder. If Reagan were to run for a State Senate or Assembly seat today he wouldn't pass muster with those who control the party.

Placer County at one time represented what could best be described as the working man's Republican Party. It was led by small businessmen, farmers and those who made a living being paid by the hour. They believed keeping government at a minimum was best for everyone. That didn't mean they were against regulations, taxes, or even government spending. The rule of the day was "moderation." They believed California should be a place were a man like Maldonado who grew up working in farm fields in Santa Barbara County could attain the American Dream. At the same time, they didn't wrap themselves in social issues. Quite the contrary. They understood Barry Goldwater whose philosophy laid the foundation for Reagan's political career.

In a nutshell, the government should strive to keep its tentacles out of the lives of individuals and only intervene when there is a clear-cut need to protect the reasonable rights of others. It isn't a black and white philosophy for sure but then again the rigid absolutes you must met today not to be dismissed as a RINO have essentially jettisoned the term "tolerance" from the Republican vernacular.

Placer County's old-time bedrock of Republican values started changing ever so slowly after the transformation of the California Legislature into a full-time affair in the mid-1960s. The rolling foothills encompassing Granite Bay, the Loomis Basin and Roseville became a home away from home for not just elected legislators but their various chief of staffs. Placer County is where the elected leaders, the lobbyists, and the career non-elected party hacks live and play together. Taking over the heart and soul of Placer County Republicans that was deeply rooted in the pioneer spirit that developed the county after the Gold Rush was inevitable.

Part-time Republican activists who have to make a living whether it is running a business or working 40 hours plus were no match for the professional Republicans.

The full-time legislature was a perfect way to establish a Northern California beachhead for the Orange County segment of the state's Republican Party.

Maldonado would be embraced by the Placer County Republican Party leadership of yesteryear that saw value in independent thought. There was a belief that men and women with similar basic values but different interpretations on how those values could be harnessed could sit at the table to devise solutions that move California forward.

It involves give and take just like in any successful business or personal relationship. The Democratic Party leadership is also guilty of transgressions against individual thought within their so-called tent. The big difference, though is that Republicans have historically favored the individual. Now it is clear that if that individual isn't a walking, talking clone of what the party leadership believes a Republican should be then they are dismissed as being a RINO.

Personally, as a lifelong Republican I'd rather be branded a RINO than to forsake men like Maldonado who put California above self-serving agendas. It is what Hiram Johnson did. It is what Earl Warren did. And it is what Ronald Reagan did.