CD10: Garamendi unveils anti-Harmer TV ad

Democratic 10th congressional candidate and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi appears to be ramping up his campaign assault on Republican opponent David Harmer.

Garamendi commissioned a robocall over the weekend about Social Security and this morning, he released a new television ad, “Two Cents,” that speaks largely to public schools. (See link below.)

Pro-Harmer forces say it’s a sign that Garamendi is desperate. It’s more likely that Garamendi wants to expand his lead in the Nov. 3 election and solidify his position heading into the June 2010 primary. Garamendi has an 18-point party registration advantage, major name identification and twice as much money as Harmer. Let’s put it this way: If Garamendi loses this election, Democrats are in big, big trouble.

The contents of the ad match Garamendi’s characterizations of Harmer’s positions in a mail piece a few weeks ago.

Like most campaign materials, the truth of its claims is all in the interpretation.

Garamendi’s chief point in this ad is that Harmer wrote a book calling for the end to public education.

It’s true that Harmer wrote a book in the early 1990s. “School Choice: Why You Need It, How You Get It” was published by the Cato Institute and contains an eloquent endorsement by then Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, now an independent from Connecticut.

But Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz and Harmer say the book never calls for the elimination of public schools. Instead, the men say the book promoted the concept that residents should be able to direct the tax dollars they pay for education into the schools of their choice, whether it’s a public, private, charter or religious facility. Let schools compete for students and schools and children will benefit, Harmer said.

The Harmers don’t act as though they want to end public schools. Harmer’s four young children attend public school in San Ramon. His wife, Elayne, is a substitute public school teacher. And Harmer has helped a public school in his neighborhood raise almost $200,000. Presumably Harmer, an attorney, could afford to send his children to a private school.

On the other hand, the Harmers live in Dougherty Valley, an affluent suburb where most view the public schools as excellent. And critics of school choice say adoption of such a program would severely undermine an already over-stressed public school system and unfairly dump tax dollars into private institutions that may not advance the broader goals of society.

Here’s the ad:

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • John W.

    Good spot. Nothwithstanding Mr. Harmer’s commendable involvement with public education locally, I don’t think there is anything half-truthish in noting his advocacy of “school choice” as public policy. I’m for choice too — but in the form of charter schools within the public school framework, not siphoning off public school funding to subsidize private school tuition for people who choose that option for their kids. There’s a huge, seldom-mentioned flaw in the thinking that people should be able to take back their tax contribution to public schools so that they can send their kids to private schools. I pay those taxes too, but I’ve never had kids in school, public or private. Should I get a tax rebate so that I can spend the money on something else? The value of a voucher would not be enough to cover private school tuition, so lower and middle income people would be stuck with what’s left of the public system after more affluent families peeled off voucher bucks to subsidize their decision to go the private school route.

  • Tom K

    Garamendi 57%, Harmer 38%, others 5%

  • Dan

    Once again, Garamendi, unable to win on the merits of his positions, has to lie about Harmer’s. Who would vote for this hack?

  • Tom Benigno

    My advise to any candidate, is do not use negative campaigning when your in the lead.

  • Elwood

    Lisa, would you please list the broader goals of society for us?

    Are these universal goals?

    Are they the same for Richmond and Piedmont?

  • On the Schools issue this is the reference to the Cato Article:

    And I quote
    “The Goal: Complete Separation of School and State
    The authors are 100 percent committed to getting government out of the business of educating our children”

    Now that sure does sound like want to end public schools.

    Additionally at the Town Meeting in St Mary’s Harmer again stated that he as far as he was concerned the money from the government for schools “was not worth the money for the strings that are attached.”

    His position is against public schools. He will use what ever power he has to accomplish his stated goal of separation of school and state.