Political Notebook

Matt Kokkonen would win the Republican primary if it were held today, according to an unscientific e-mail survey of 200 party members in the 33rd Assembly District who have a strong voting history.

Farm Team Consulting conducted the in-house, online survey as part of its overall political action program. Farm Team is a Republican firm based in Sacramento that lists as clients former county Supervisors Harry Ovitt, Jerry Lenthall and Mike Ryan.

Questions went by e-mail to more than 12,000 “high propensity” voters in the 33rd Assembly District. About 200 voters replied, according to Farm Team Consulting’s founder, Andrew Russo.

The survey showed Kokkonen, a financial adviser, leading San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian 44 percent to 36 percent.

They were trailed by Santa Maria Planning Commissioner Etta Waterfield, Paso Robles City Councilman Fred Strong and former Santa Maria Councilman Marty Mariscal.

All three finished below 10 percent. Mariscal has since dropped out.

“High propensity” voters are those who voted in at least two of the three elections of June 2006, November 2006, and June 2008, Russo wrote in an e-mail.

The poll was not conducted in a scientific manner to reflect the district’s demographics, and it depended on respondents having a computer and being willing to participate.

Russo said he could not determine the poll’s margin of error, “because we did not do a phone survey. I imagine a 200-sample survey probably has a fairly generous margin of error.” He said most phone polls have a sample of 300 or more.

“That would not change the fact that this appears to be a two-way race between Katcho (Achadjian) and Matt Kokkonen, regardless of who may be on top at this point,” Russo wrote in an e-mail reply to questions.

The higher numbers for Achadjian and Kokkonen could reflect a name recognition question that Farm Team Consulting sent out at the same time.

Kokkonen had 38 percent name recognition, followed again by Achadjian at 35 percent. The other three candidates lagged far behind.

Achadjian has been a county supervisor for more than 10 years and is a member of the California Coastal Commission. Kokkonen has been on districtwide ballots for Assembly and Congress.

Those who answered the survey said the state budget crisis was the most important issue facing California today (33 percent), followed by illegal immigration (19 percent), “other” (15 percent) and jobs and the economy (14 percent).

Six percent said the cost of public employee salaries and pensions was the state’s most pressing problem, and five percent said water.

Achadjian, Waterfield, Strong and Kokkonen are seeking the Republican nomination to succeed Sam Blakeslee in the 33rd Assembly District.

Santa Maria City Councilwoman Hilda Zacarias is the only Democrat in the race.

Blakeslee, the Assembly minority leader, cannot run for re-election next year because of term limits. He is raising funds for a run at an as yet undesignated higher office, perhaps state Senate, in 2012.

The 33rd assembly District includes Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.

— Bob Cuddy