What Garamendi’s Absence Means for Gubernatorial Race

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 www.bapolitix.org