In one of the first shots fired in what is expected to be a heated campaign, a well-known Central Coast conservative is warning fellow Republicans to keep Abel Maldonado from being elected to Congress next year.
San Luis Obispo financial planner Matt Kokkonen is urging people to sign a pledge opposing Maldonado’s race for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Maldonado, a Republican former Assemblyman, state senator and, briefly, lieutenant governor, has announced his intention to seek the Congressional seat now held by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara).
In his pledge, which is being sent to voters by email, Kokkonen says: “It would be a disaster to send Obama Republican Abel Maldonado to Congress.”
Kokkonen said conservatives have a great chance of defeating Capps, and should elect “a real Republican, not someone who will sabotage the efforts of the Republican House majority.”
Asked to comment, Maldonado described himself as “a Reagan Republican” who works for the interests of the people he represents.
He said former members of President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet, including Ed Meese, William Clark and George Shultz have endorsed him.
Kokkonen, he said “should spend his time working to grow the party, not to divide the party.”
Kokkonen declined to say whether he will run again. He has lost one race for Congress, two for state Assembly, and one for county Tax Collector-Treasurer. Nor would he say whether he is endorsing anyone else.
Kokkonen said he is basing his opposition on Maldonado’s voting record as an elected official.
The nomination period is between Feb. 13 and March 9.