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CD10: The potential candidate rundown

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, March 27th, 2009 at 7:12 pm in General.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

I’ve spent most of the week reporting and writing about the surprise pending opening in congressional District 10, the seat held by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo. My Sunday column focuses on the race plus I have written a longer overview piece budgeted for the Monday paper.

In the meantime, I’ve have posted below some of the information I gathered this week on some of the potential candidates. (Unfortunately, didn’t have space to list them all in print so some of the longshot candidates won’t find their names in the print stories.)

Obviously, many of these people will not run. Others are being recruited. Some of the people whose names I heard didn’t return my calls, which could mean anything from “I’m not ready to talk” to “That’s nuts.” And new names will undoubtedly surface.

But the list thus far offers an illuminating look at the variety of people considering a run  for a major public office.

District 10 has an 18-point registration advantage for Democrats, so I have started with the Democratic names followed by the Republicans and an independent. Click through to the jump for the full posting.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord –  He is the clear front-runner. He secured Tauscher’s endorsement this week along with that of Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and we can expect more endorsements from other party leaders, labor and environmental groups. With this high level of institutional support, which translates into money and volunteers, DeSaulnier will be tough to beat. He says he is definitely running.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo – As a woman with an educational background, Buchanan  has a built-in advantage at the polls. A telephone survey by her campaign even showed her with a narrow but statistically insignificant lead over an otherwise all-male field. But without Tauscher’s endorsement and the support of many of the traditional Democratic organizations, Buchanan may find it difficult to raise enough cash to wage a competitive campaign. She says she is evaluating her options and hasn’t yet made a decision.

Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg, Democrat – He is a renowned moderate who could be a good fit for this centrist district. But he would face the same fundraising problem as Buchanan unless he was able to attract dollars from outside traditional Democratic groups. He hasn’t made a decision.

Former BART Director Dan Richard of Piedmont, Democrat – He is a self-described moderate who helped lead PG&E out of bankruptcy as one of its senior vice presidents. During his BART tenure, he lived in Orinda and Walnut Creek. But he has been out of the political limelight since he left BART in 2004 and could struggle to find enough financial support to be competitive. He hasn’t made a decision.

San Francisco City Attorney’s office investigator Adriel Hampton, Democrat – Hampton has already launched an aggressive online campaign through Twitter, Facebook and his web site. His main target has been DeSaulnier. But despite Hampton’s self-described and apt “Mack truck” approach, he is a longshot candidate. He recently registered as a Democrat after being a decline to state and a Green Party member. And as a progressive candidate, he may be too liberal for the moderate CD10. Hampton says he will raise enough money to be competitive but that remains to be seen. Hampton says he is definitely running.

Scott Talan, independent – He is the former mayor of Lafayette but that was 15 years ago. Since then, Talan has worked around the country as a television reporter and college professor, among other things, and currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area. Talan is a major longshot given the fact that he has lived out of state for so many years. He has not yet made a decision.

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf, Republican – Rupf may be the Republican’s best chance of a victory given his countywide name recognition, publicly popular occupation and lack of association with prickly partisan politics. The bigger question may be whether or not Rupf wants to run. He says himself that running for Congress is not his idea but so many people have asked him to consider it that he has decided to evaluate the race.

California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, Republican – An attorney by trade, Del Beccaro is a frequent public speaker on political issues and could undeniably hold his own in debates. But as a conservative Republican, the Lafayette resident may be viewed by potential campaign investors as too conservative and too closely aligned with partisan politics to win in this moderate district. Del Beccaro would also have to resign his seat at the party in order to run. He is still evaluating the race and hasn’t made up his mind.

Move America Forward Executive Director and Fairfield City Councilwoman Catherine Moy, Republican — Moy is a sharp and motivated woman with a diverse background that includes work as a journalist and her job as the director fo the national nonprofit Move America Foward, a conservative group that promotes U.S. opposition to terrorism and holds pro-troop events. But as a resident of Fairfield, Moy is unknown in the bulk of the district. And like Del Beccaro, groups that fund campaigns may view her as too conservative to win. On the other hand, she says she isn’t worried about raising money due to her national networks. Moy, wife and mother of a teen-aged daughter, says she is being heavily recruited but is still evaluating the race.

Nick Gerber, Republican – Gerber ran against Tauscher in 2008 and he garnered 31 percent of the vote or about 91,000 votes. He waged a few innovative fundraising schemes but he didn’t have nearly enough cash to wage a serious campaign. As for another bid, Gerber lacks the kind of countywide star power that would attract the kind of money it would take to be competitive. Gerber has said he will run.

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  • Tim

    What about Abram Wilson or Mary Piepho?

  • REW

    Most of these would be candidates are dreamers., especially the Republicans thinking about running. No Republican has any chance of winning this seat, the Republican party is on life support in the liberal bay area. The candidate who will win this seat is the one who can lock up the support of orginized labor – which weilds a lot of power behind the scenes. You also need Miller, Pelosi, and Tauscher. Desaulnier has got this support, so he will win the seat, in my view.

  • Lauren Unruh

    How about me?

  • RR

    I am proud to announce my candidacy for the House seat. I shall be willing to serve, as would my role model, Caroline Kennedy, if asked nicely by the voters.

  • bernie quigley

    Piepho is a very interesting idea. I think there’s something to the notion that this is a “woman’s seat” and that a female candidate has an advantage. Buchanan is a poor speaker. Piepho is bright and appealling with centrist views. She could beat either Desaulnier or Buchanan. The Republican party would be making a good choice in recruiting her.

  • http://PoliticalBlotter Ralph Hoffmann, Guest Columnist

    Anyone, 25 years of age or older, residing in CD-10, is qualified to serve. Experience is the best teacher,
    but often also the cruelest. On the other hand, given
    the cost of Special Elections, to conduct, and to campaign for, plus the dislike of all voters for incumbents blamed for the economy, shouldn’t we settle on a newcomer, as Ellen was once, with great non-political experience?

  • REW

    I can’t see any serious Republican, even Warrn Rupf, running for this seat. What would be thier platform? We need to return to the Bush years? It’s going to take several years for the Republican party to make a comeback. In California, it may take 10 years. GW Bush’s economic policies were just a disastor for the US – he almost cused another great depression! (the jury is still out, actually on that). This seat will remain Democratic. Period.

  • REW

    Warren Rupf, I might add, makes $300,000 a year as Sherrif (the Times reported this a few years back). He’s one of the highest paid civil servants in the nation. I doubt he’ll walk away from that to run for Congress, as seat he can’t win anyway (as his constultants are already telling him.

  • CalView

    Lisa,
    Where is the Back Story?
    Isn’t Undersecretary of a Department truly a demotion from Congress Member?
    How hot was it in the Kitchen for Ellen Tauscher?
    What kind of heat was she feeling from the many grass roots and activists groups demanding better legislation from her?
    Have you called the grassroots folks to get their take on her sudden departure?
    Sure many expected Ellen to take a Cabinet Position if Hilary won. But even that could be an excuse to zip out of the district and stay in Washington full time.

    Was there a risk that the Activist constituents could throw their support behind a “do something” candidate for congress?

    I’m suggesting viable Republican could have captured the hearts and minds of the activists and independents to energize 25% of the electorate into a campaign of swing voters to Toss Tauscher.

    What kind of numbers do the civics groups have? More importantly, what kind of response can they generate from their Action Alerts and campaign support?

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    CalView,
    I’m not hearing from anyone that Tauscher is leaving due to any pressure from progressive activists.

    Tauscher has a chance to work in the highly specialized arms control field as an under secretary. I’ve interviewed her a number of times on a variety of issues and I never saw her light up quite as much as when she was talking about nuclear nonproliferation and national security. I believe she truly views this as a great career opportunity.

    Plus, she is getting married this summer and her only child is leaving for college in the fall. Most brides like to live with their new husbands and I suspect that is a major reason behind her decision.

    I fully expect the progressive activists to get involved in the campaign for Tauscher’s replacement at some point. But those that I have talked with say they are waiting to see how the candidate list shakes out after Tasucher officially resigns.

    Progressive activists may not be wholeheartedly welcomed into the campaign, though. CD10 is still a centrist district with a high number of swing voters. I expect the Democratic front-runners will run toward the middle.

    Lisav