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What Garamendi's Absence Means for Gubernatorial Race

by Indy, published

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, an early candidate for governor in 2010, recently announced that he will drop efforts to become the Golden State's next chief executive and instead run to replace U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District.

Garamendi, ala Gavin Newsom, made the announcement via Twitter, Facebook and
YouTube and during in-person stops in Concord and Fairfield.

"I am proud today to announce that if current Rep. Ellen Tauscher is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve in the Obama administration, I expect to run for the 10th Congressional District, a district that includes parts of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. I am excited by this unexpected potential opportunity in my own backyard, and with your support, I will return to Washington to help shape a better future for California, our country and a very special Congressional District," the 64-year-old Garamendi said. "I am ready to lend a progressive and pragmatic voice to find solutions on debates ranging from renewable energy to green collar jobs to universal 'Medicare for All' health care to water policy to equality for all to market oversight to mass transit to the importance of fully funding education. As I learned during my time in the Peace Corps, developing solutions first requires being able to ask the right questions."

A perennial candidate for governor, Garamendi has long been considered by political observers to be a competent, dedicated Democratic foot soldier with a long history of public service. In addition to his service lieutenant governor, Garamendi is a former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, a two-term California Insurance Commissioner, a former state legislator and a University of California regent and California State University trustee. He also chairs both the State Lands Commission and the Commission for Economic Development

Tauscher (D-Walnut Creek) is expected to be appointed Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security in the Obama Administration. Tauscher must still face Senate confirmation for the post, but once that is done a special election in the district will be called.

Should Tauscher be confirmed and should Garamendi win the seat, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would then be in the position of appointing a new lieutenant governor. That appointment is likely to become a key political bargaining chip when the governor and key Democratic leaders resume budget and policy talks later this spring.

Already in the race to replace the congresswoman is Democratic state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier who has secured the endorsements of key employee unions in Contra Costa County, Tauscher and U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez). First-year Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is also thought to be considering a run for Tauscher's seat.

Garmendi's move slightly tightens the race for the Democratic gubernatorial primary. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who formally announced his bid Tuesday, will likely be joined by Attorney General Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and possibly U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in the battle to replace the termed-out Schwarzenegger in 2010. Republicans going for the post include so far former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, former Congressman Tom Campbell and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

Follow Jeff Mitchell at his political blog at

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