Rep. John Garamendi (D)
California 10th District
In the 1950s, when San Francisco and Oakland were already thriving cities, the rolling grasslands east of the mountain ridges were still mostly empty. In the years since, they have filled up. Freeways took the first commuters through the Caldecott Tunnel to the woodsy, trail-like roads of Orinda and Lafayette. Interstate 580 brought people east from the southern East Bay towns to the Amador Valley and Livermore, site of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which conducts nuclear warhead research. Interstate 680 running north-south provided a spine for businesses and shopping centers up and down the San Ramon Valley, from burgeoning Concord to Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County to points south. BART stations in Walnut Creek and Orinda took commuters to downtown San Francisco. Not all of the inhabitable areas are filled up yet, and local voters have passed measures to set limits on growth. But what has evolved in this sunny land, shielded by the mountains from the ocean fogs and rains, is a civilization of highly skilled and educated people. They are affluent and generally less culturally liberal than San Francisco, but they are concerned about preserving a physical environment that is one of America’s most pleasant.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
This territory is the heart of the 10th Congressional District of California. Redistricting in 2001 removed the San Ramon Valley south of Walnut Creek and added part of the Sacramento River Delta and parts of booming Solano County to the north. Fairfield is the largest city in the 10th, but suffered a big drop in residential property values when the recession hit in 2008. Travis Air Force Base, with its C-17 cargo haulers and constant traffic to and from Iraq, adds $1.4 billion annually to the local economy. From 2000 to 2007, about three-fourths of the population growth was attributable to Hispanics, who increased from 15% to 20% of the total. The district is largely Democratic. In 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry carried it 59%-40%, and in 2008, Democrat Barack Obama won it 65%-33%.
Rep. John Garamendi (D)
Elected: 2009, 1st term.
Born: Jan. 24, 1945, Mokelumne Hill .
Home: Walnut Grove.
Education: U of CA-Berkeley, B.A. 1966; Harvard U., M.B.A. 1974.
Family: Married (Patti); 6 children.
Elected office: CA Assembly, 1974-76; CA Senate, 1976-88; CA insurance commissioner, 1991-95, 2002-06; CA lt. gov, 2006-09
Professional Career: U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Ethiopia 1966-68; Deputy Secy., U.S. Dept. of Interior, 1995-98
The new congressman from the 10th District is John Garamendi, a Democrat who had been California’s lieutenant governor. He won the San Francisco Bay-area seat in the Nov. 3, 2009 special election to replace Democrat Ellen Tauscher, who left Congress in June to join President Obama’s State Department. At age 64, Garamendi is among the older freshmen in the House, but he is also one of the most politically seasoned, with more than 30 years of public service, most of it in California. At House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request, Garamendi made haste to Washington to be sworn in on Thursday, putting him in a position to vote on the Democrats’ pending health care overhaul bill. He is a longtime supporter of a government-run, single-payer system and was expected to vote for the legislation. “I would be very happy to make that yes vote my first vote in Congress,” Garamendi told the San Francisco Chronicle.
|John Garamendi (D)||66,311||(53%)|
|David Harmer (R)||53,441||(43%)|
|John Garamendi (D)||27,580||(26%)|
|David Harmer (R)||22,582||(21%)|
|Mark DeSaulnier (D)||18,888||(18%)|
|Joan Buchanan (D)||12,896||(12%)|
|Anthony Woods (D)||9,388||(9%)|
|Ellen Tauscher (D)||192,226||(65%)||($1,049,777)|
|Nicholas Gerber (R)||91,877||(31%)||($104,128)|
|Eugene Ruyle (PF)||11,062||(4%)|
|Ellen Tauscher (D)||Unopposed|
Garamendi was raised on his family’s cattle ranch in Calaveras County, Calif. At the University of California at Berkeley, he was an All-American offensive guard in football and was also a competitive wrestler. After graduating, he joined the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, where his wife, Patti, also was a volunteer. The experience launched him on a career in public service. After returning to California, he won his first campaign in 1974 to the state Assembly. In 1976, he was elected to the state Senate, where he eventually became majority leader. During his career, he did two stints as the state’s insurance commissioner, and also was President Bill Clinton’s deputy secretary of the Interior. But he ultimately failed twice in his bid to become governor of California. In the 2006 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, Garamendi narrowly defeated Jackie Speier, who represents the 12th District in the House. He went on to beat Republican Tom McClintock in the general election. Garamendi was planning another run for governor in 2010 when Tauscher resigned her House seat in June 2009 to become Obama’s undersecretary for state for arms control and international security.
In the jockeying before the all-party primary in September, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier was an early favorite among Democrats and gained endorsements from Tauscher and from neighboring 7th District Rep. George Miller, a prominent California Democrat and close ally of Democratic House Speaker Pelosi. While DeSaulnier was better known locally, Garamendi had higher name identification from numerous statewide campaigns, and he also had endorsements from Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore. Garamendi was criticized for living outside the district, although California does not make residency a requirement. He insisted that he did live in the district, at least partially. Garamendi said that his front lawn was in the 10th District although his house was not.
In the September 1 primary, Garamendi prevailed among Democrats, winning 26% to DeSaulnier’s 18%. But no candidate received the requisite 50%, and Garamendi moved on to a runoff election against Republican attorney David Harmer, who earned the most votes among the Republican candidates.
Harmer had some name recognition as the son of former GOP Lt. Gov. John Harmer, but otherwise was not well known. He was competitive financially, raising $800,000 to Garamendi’s $1 million. Still, he faced an uphill battle in a suburban San Francisco district where Democrats hold an 18-percentage-point advantage over Republicans. During the campaign, Garamendi embraced Obama’s agenda, including support for the public option in the health care legislation. Harmer campaigned in opposition to the president, criticizing the government bailouts of the financial and auto industries. “This election offered voters a very clear choice of direction,” Garamendi said at his victory party in downtown Walnut Creek, Calif. He won on Tuesday with 53% of the vote to Harmer’s 43%.