Political Notebook

Central Coast

Should State Sen. Abel Maldonado be sworn in as lieutenant governor in February, his tenure could be short-lived.

He has a conservative challenger for the post in Republican Assemblyman Sam Aanestad, an oral surgeon from Grass Valley in Northern California.

Aanestad said he will run in the Republican primary against Maldonado for lieutenant governor. He sent out a news release last week announcing that he has the support of the Placer County Republican Central Committee.

Maldonado is a Santa Maria-based state senator who was picked by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace Lt. Gov. John Garamendi. In November, Garamendi was elected to Congress.

The Legislature must act on the nomination in February. If it doesn’t, Maldonado automatically becomes lieutenant governor.

But even as an incumbent, Maldonado will face opposition in the June primary from Aanestad, who calls himself the only true conservative in the race. Aanestad also has the backing of former presidential candidate and Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee.

Whoever wins that race will face off against the primary winners in the Democratic, Green, Peace and Freedom, Libertarian, and other parties.

— Bob Cuddy

Central Coast

Half a dozen Republican Assembly members have announced their support of Henrietta “Etta” Waterfield in the race this year to succeed Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee.

Among her new announced supporters are Assemblymen Curt Hagman, Tom Berryhill, Nathan Fletcher, Kevin Jeffries, Dan Logue and Ted Gaines.

“All of these legislators were in the thick of the budget fight last year, working hard to keep the Democrats from raising taxes,” Waterfield spokesman Tim Clark said.

“They support Etta because she will be a rock-solid vote against higher taxes, and she will fight to repeal regulations and taxes that hold back small businesses and job creation,” he stated in a news release.

Waterfield is a former planning commissioner in Santa Maria. She served for nearly a decade as coordinator of the Santa Maria Valley Economic Development Commission.

Waterfield’s opponents in the GOP primary are San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian, Paso Robles City Councilman Fred Strong and Matt Kokkonen, a San Luis Obispo financial planner.

The winner of that race faces Hilda Zacarias, a Santa Maria City Councilwoman and the lone Democrat in the race. Blakeslee cannot run again because of term limits.

— Bob Cuddy

San Luis Obispo

Matt Kokkonen, running to replace Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, has been endorsed by Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.

Liddell, a Cal Poly graduate and resident of San Luis Obispo, is the former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion.

“I’m proud to have ‘The Iceman’s’ endorsement,” Kokkonen said. “Endorsements by real local heroes like Chuck Liddell mean a great deal more than endorsements from politicians who got California, the cities, and the counties into our current financial morass.”

Blakeslee has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and is considered a good bet to run for state senate, should Abel Maldonado, who currently holds the local senate seat, be confirmed as lieutenant governor in February.

— Bob Cuddy