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Garamendi all but enters CD10 race

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi all but declared his candidacy tonight for the congressional seat held by outgoing Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo.

Garamendi delivered a short but eloquent speech to several dozen members of the Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee in what turned out to be an impromptu candidates forum along with appearances by two of his potential challengers.

“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.,” Garamendi said. “So, we’re considering it. I’d like you to seriously consider it, too.” (Update: 9:45 p.m. After the meeting, a Garamendi aide said the lt. governor had not yet made a final decision.)

Garamendi, who lives in Walnut Grove, made no mention of his gubernatorial campaign during the roughly 20 minutes he spoke.

Instead, he focused on federal issues such as the government bailout, his opposition to offshore oil drilling, his support for a single-payer healthcare system and what he called the global climate change crisis.

“Those changes are happening in Congress,” Garamendi said. “There is tremendous potential for change.”

Garamendi spoke following short speeches by declared congressional candidate and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, , who said she expects to make a decision in the next week.

But Garamendi’s presence at the monthly meeting of the county’s Democrats was the chief source of the buzz in the room.

Many of the county’s top Democrats were already struggling with a difficult choice between DeSaulnier and Buchanan. They have campaigned for both of them and have worked particularly hard for Buchanan, who ran in a nail-biter in November.

The addition of Garamendi into the mix will certainly spur a lot of debate in the ranks of the Democratic Party.

UPDATE 7:41 AM: In the editing process last night, I dropped a “you” from the last sentence of Garamendi’s quote. Also, a reader pointed out that Garamendi was referring to the generic “you” and did not mean specifically the people in the audience.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen