Political Notebook 8/1

SLO County

Describing him as a “consumer champion,” the Consumer Federation of California has endorsed Democrat John Laird in his battle to become the region’s next state senator.

“When (Laird) served in the state Assembly, he achieved a 98 percent pro-consumer voting record,” Richard Holober, the nonprofit group’s executive director, wrote in a news release. “We look forward to his leadership in the Senate on consumer protection.”

The score was based on “a number of issues, including financial privacy protection, health care reform, food safety, household toxics, false advertising, deceptive insurance industry practices and real estate lending,” Holober wrote.

He added that Sam Blakeslee, Laird’s Republican opponent, received a score of 13 percent on consumer issues.

Blakeslee, Laird, Libertarian Mark Hinkle and Independent Jim Fitzgerald are seeking the 15th District state Senate seat in a special election Aug. 17.

The seat became vacant in May when Abel Maldonado resigned to accept an appointment as lieutenant governor offered to him by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

— Bob Cuddy

Santa Maria

Assembly candidate Hilda Zacarias, seeking to succeed Sam Blakeslee in the state Legislature, has opened headquarters in Santa Maria.

Zacarias, an accountant who serves on the Santa Maria City Council, officially opened the office Saturday. It is located at 110 South Lincoln St., No. 102, in the Heritage Square Building next to the Mervyn’s building. The headquarters’ phone number is 922-8020.

Zacarias, a Democrat, is opposed by Republican Katcho Achadjian, a San Luis Obispo County supervisor.

Blakeslee could not run again because of term limits and is seeking a state Senate seat.

The 33rd Assembly District includes all of San Luis Obispo County and the western half of Santa Barbara County.

— Bob Cuddy

SLO County

Two more educators have endorsed John Laird in his bid to become the Central Coast’s next state senator.

Atascadero Unified School District Trustees Donn Clickard and Tami Gunther have endorsed Laird.

Gunther, who described herself as a lifelong Republican, said she attended a candidates’ forum Monday sponsored by the League of Women Voters and came away impressed by Democrat Laird and “unimpressed” that his chief opponent, Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, did not attend.

Blakeslee meets Mondays in Sacramento with fellow Republican members of a working group seeking to solve the state’s $19 billion budget deficit.

Blakeslee and Laird are opposed by Libertarian Mark Hinkle and Independent Jim Fitzgerald in the special election Aug. 17. They are seeking to replace Abel Maldonado in the 15th state Senate District.

Maldonado resigned in May when he was appointed lieutenant governor.

Laird has received endorsements from numerous educators, including county Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker and state Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell.

Teachers unions also have thrown their weight behind Laird.

Laird’s parents were teachers, and he was a community college trustee.

Laird released today a new side-by-side comparison on issues called “John Laird & Sam Blakeslee on Public Education.” It can be accessed at

— Bob Cuddy