Well, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s selection of Abel Maldonado to fulfill the most important political vacancy in California — indeed all of known humanity — has set off wild rounds of speculation about just about everything, it seems. The potential political dominoes from the move are significant, and we’ll walk through one popular scenario here. If Maldo is confirmed (and that’s a big ‘if’ in the wake of Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s comments about the pick this week) it creates a Senate vacancy — one that Sam Blakeslee is sure to run for (he’s already opened an account to run for the seat in 2012). If Blakeslee runs, he’ll certainly have to step aside as Assembly Republican Leader (cue Blakeslee’s sigh of relief here). And that would set off another scrum for Blakeslee’s office. Among the top candidates for the job are Martin Garrick and former Senate Republican leader Jim Nielsen, who is back in the Assembly after hitching a ride in Michael J. Fox’s Delorean. Tom Berryhill is also interested in the job. But there’s some momentum behind a ‘none of the above’ pick– Freshman Assemblywoman Connie Conway. Whether the GOP power struggle comes sooner or later, all of the aforementioned pols will be in the mix. But look for Conway as a possible contender in what may shape up as the year of the GOP woman…

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