Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

Abel Maldonado had a strategy for his recent appearance on "The Colbert Report."

It helped that California's lieutenant governor got a half-hour of advance face time with the host of the popular Comedy Central program. Stephen Colbert's faux conservative talk show approach must be daunting to his guests. After all, most are invited on because they represent a serious cause or have written a serious book, but once the camera rolls he seemingly does his best to knock them off stride with sarcasm and absurdities.

"I'm a character," Colbert had explained during the pre-show meeting.

Maldonado knew better than to attempt his own humor in response. Instead, he laughed at the host's every joke and stayed on message.

It's a message that seems to be resonating. A recent poll showed that more than 60 percent of California voters support Proposition 14, much to the chagrin of Democratic and Republican party bosses.

The measure would radically alter the state's primary system, currently designed to promote the top vote-getter of each political party to the November general election. Instead, under Prop. 14, there would be one primary ballot for all voters, and the top two vote-getters would advance, regardless of their party affiliation.

Like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maldonado argues the "open primary" would force candidates to appeal to all voters from the start, rather then spending their primary campaigns trying to establish themselves as the most conservative Republican or the most liberal Democrat.

Theoretically, this would result in the success of moderate candidates more open to compromise and solutions than to entrenchment and obstructions.

Maldonado, who stopped off at The Triplicate on Tuesday, knows all about the stalemate that can result when hard-line politicians from the left and right convene.

The Legislature was locked in a game of chicken for months last year, failing to address an enormous budget deficit that resulted in state-issued IOUs and raised eyebrows throughout the country. A senator at the time, he almost single-handedly broke the deadlock by breaking with Republican ranks and voting with Democrats for a package of tax/fee increases and spending cuts.

But his cooperation came at a price: Democrats had to agree to his put his baby, Proposition 14, on the ballot.

Now that, folks, is compromise.


Bob Berkowitz' LifeStyles Research Company has been polling the Del Norte electorate on behalf of several candidates. While those results are proprietary, he also agreed to throw in a couple of questions requested by yours truly. Here's what he found:

andbull; Voters who live outside the Crescent City limits tend to support the concept of consolidating our city and county governments, while city residents tend to oppose it. Of the 255 non-city voters asked, 62 percent backed consolidation while 38 percent opposed it. Of the 47 city voters asked, 42 percent supported consolidation while 58 percent opposed it.

andbull; While statewide polls show a narrow lead for the November ballot measure to legalize marijuana, Del Norte voters in the survey oppose it, 63 percent to 37 percent. Local voters age 60 and older were more likely to oppose legalization, while those 59 and younger were almost evenly split.