Date: Oct 14, 2010

IRVINE (October 14, 2010) - The WG Board of Directors has voted to formally endorse Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado’s bid for election to that office. Maldonado, a farmer and WG member, was appointed to the position by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when it became vacant last year. Maldonado was sworn in as Lt. Governor in April after the state Legislature finally confirmed the appointment. Maldonado faces San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor. Newsom spoke to the WGPAC Board last year as a candidate for Governor, and while he proclaimed his support for policies that help businesses grow, Newsom also declared his strong support for union card check legislation.

“We are proud to endorse Abel Maldonado for Lieutenant Governor,” said WG President and CEO Tom Nassif. “Abel brings the experiences and concerns of our members to his duties as a state constitutional officer, frequently advising Governor Schwarzenegger on important issues like water, regulatory relief and labor union legislation. He understands that the most important thing he can do is help California create more jobs, and he understands that the state’s regulatory policies often stand in the way. If he is elected on November 2, Abel has pledged to continue working alongside the next governor regardless of party affiliation. We need his voice and his determination in Sacramento and we will work to ensure his election as Lieutenant Governor.”

Troubled by local red tape that stood in the way of his family farm’s efforts to build a cooling facility, Maldonado successfully ran for Santa Maria city council, winning election as mayor two years later. He then won election to the state Assembly in 1998 and the state Senate in 2004, representing a large central coast district that stretches from Santa Maria to southern Santa Clara County. Maldonado is the son of an immigrant farm worker who built Agro-Jal Farms into a successful enterprise in the Santa Maria area. Today the farm produces strawberries, broccoli and other vegetables.

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship ninety percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and seventy five percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce.

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