SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Lloyd Levine’s decision to fire his chief of staff and switch sides in the Assembly campaign has sparked controversy within San Fernando Valley political circles, as activists debate whether the lawmaker is putting politics over personal loyalty. Levine, D-Van Nuys, fired chief of staff Stuart Waldman last month and later withdrew his endorsement for Waldman to succeed him in his Assembly seat. Instead he is now backing Bob Blumenfield, an aide to Congressman Howard Berman. Levine, who is termed out of the Assembly, is seeking a state Senate seat next year. Levine has not given a public explanation for the firing, calling it a confidential personnel matter. Waldman and his backers say it was all part of a political deal to get Levine the support of the influential Berman in his state Senate run. Political consultant Larry Levine, the assemblyman’s father, is advising Blumenfield in his Assembly bid. Some San Fernando Valley political activists are upset at the move, saying Levine has shown a lack of loyalty to a deputy who served him well for years. Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, who held the seat before Levine and has endorsed Waldman, said it seems clear to him that political motivations were in play. “I’ve never heard of any dispute (previously) between Assembly member Levine and Stuart Waldman. Certainly I assume that it’s politics,” Hertzberg said. “It’s all about the Senate race. That’s the way it appears to me.” Attorney Fred Gaines, a former chairman of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, said Waldman has done a good job serving the district. “This is about machine politics – the Berman machine,” Gaines said. “If you want our support, you’re going to support our guy and dump your guy, and Lloyd saying, OK, I’ll do that. It’s disloyal and it shows the kind of person that Lloyd Levine is.” [email protected] (916) 446-6732160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Waldman said he was “disappointed in Lloyd Levine,” but not deterred from continuing his campaign. “It’s a shame,” Waldman said. “It’s very disheartening. It’s a situation like this that is the reason people are turned off by politicians and politics.” Waldman said he was not aware of any conflict with Levine or complaint about his performance prior to being fired May 10, and said Levine gave him no explanation. He said Levine only formally pulled his endorsement Thursday. Levine declined to talk in detail about why he fired Waldman, saying it was a personnel matter and that he has been advised not to talk about it publicly. But he did say the reasons were “unrelated” to political considerations, adding that because of the campaign it came at an inopportune time. “Politics was not a factor in my decision in any way, shape or form,” Levine said.