Blakeslee win would create a vacancy

Tuesday’s election to fill a state Senate seat could leave an Assembly seat vacant until December at the earliest, leaving that body short-handed.

Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee is running against Democrat John Laird, Libertarian Mark Hinkle and Independent Jim Fitzgerald.

If Blakeslee, who represents the 33rd Assembly District, wins, he would move to the state Senate, and the Central Coast — and Sacramento — would be unrepresented in the Assembly until after the November general election. Democrat Hilda Zacarias, Republican Katcho Achadjian and Libertarian Paul Polson are running in that race.

Central Coast voters are selecting a new state senator in the dead of summer because, according to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Legislature is stymied on the state budget and needs all lawmakers on board.

The need to fill all legislative positions was the chief reason the governor gave for calling the election sooner rather than waiting until the November general election. His decision cost the five counties in the 15th state Senate District hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra election costs at a time when they are struggling.

According to Christine Robertson of Blakeslee’s staff, the state elections code says that “When a vacancy occurs in a legislative office after the close of the nomination period in the final year of the term of office, no special election shall be held.”

Robertson downplayed the vacancy because the Assembly is scheduled to adjourn at the end of August.

“The Senate election is Aug. 17, and the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the session on Aug. 31. So for the months of September, October, November and December, the Legislature is scheduled to be in recess,” Robertson wrote.

However, the governor can call the Legislature into session, and has done so “many times over the past few years … on various issues, such as state budget, water, etc.,” according to Laird’s campaign.