Garamendi Considers Switch to Congressional Race3 min read

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Some have announced it already as a done deal, others have suggested it is simply a rumor. But the word filtering through is the Lt. Governor John Garamendi all but declared his candidacy for the Congressional seat held by exiting Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher.

As reported last week in the Contra Costa Times, the Lt. Governor told the crowd:

“A lot of you have told me that this congressional district is where I should run, that I have the experience and the background to have an impact in Washington, D.C. So, we’re considering it. I’d like to seriously consider it, too.”

A follow up story indicated that he was strongly weighing his options.

The Capitol weekly last week threw more fuel on the fire:

“We hear that John Garamendi is getting ready to jump into the Congressional race against Mark DeSaulnier for Ellen Tauscher’s vacant, East Bay Congressional seat. Garamendi has name ID in a race that will likely feature low turn-out, and has to be seen as a front-runner (this from a column that has not seen a lick of polling in the race).”

The implications for this are broad and far-reaching.

First, the Governor’s race perhaps gains some focus. The Democratic nomination may come down to the old (AG Jerry Brown who already served a stretch as governor in the 70s and 80s) and the new, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. It is unclear what Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who faces reelection during the May 19th election will do.

Second, it throws a wrench into the plans of Mark DeSaulnier and Joan Buchanan who were taking a shot at the Special Election.

Third, it may make life more difficult for those seeking the Lt. Governor position in 2010, Dean Florez and Alan Lowenthal on the Democratic side. If Garamendi runs and wins, Governor Schwarzenegger gets to appoint the new Lt. Governor. That will likely mean Florez and Lowenthal would have to face an incumbent.

Meanwhile Jeff Denham who is the announced Republican candidate is potentially even in more jeopardy. It seems unlikely that the Governor would appoint a Republican who voted against the budget package, but one never knows with the Governor.

That said it is far from clear that the appointed incumbent would have the traditional advantages, particularly for such a low-profile position as Lt. Governor whose office has been strafed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. That throws some irony into the intrigue, as the Governor would appoint the successor to the position he virtually tried to eliminate a little over a month ago.

Frankly the move makes sense. Garamendi was badly trailing rivals such as Attorney General and Former Governor Jerry Brown and LA Mayor Villaraigosa for the Governor’s mansion. For whatever reason his candidacy did not gain traction. Last month he swapped out his campaign team which is never a good sign, although occasionally it pays dividends. Moving to a low profile race, he can bank on his high profile and name recognition to bring in much needed funds and energy.

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