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CD10: AIP nominee passes away

Jerry Denham

Jerry Denham

Jerome “Jerry” Denham, the colorful face of the East Bay American Independent Party and its two-time candidate for the 10th Congressional District, has died. He was 74. (Watch the Contra Costa Times Web site for his obituary on Sunday.)

Denham passed away unexpectedly several days before the June 8 primary election, where he was unopposed in his second bid for his party’s nomination. He also ran in the 2009 special election to replace former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who left for a State Department post.

The American Independent Party on Thursday night selected Vincent May, an El Cerrito biofuels consultant, as the party’s new nominee. May expects to finalize all the necessary paperwork at the election office this afternoon. (May was seriously considering running for governor. You can visit his Web site at http://www.wantedcalgov.net/home.html. He says he will revamp this site when he launches his congressional campaign.)

May will run on Nov. 2 against Democratic incumbent John Garamendi, of Walnut Grove, and GOP nominee, retired peace officer and farmer Gary Clift, of Vacaville.

Denham was a unique political figure in the East Bay, where he often appeared at local events wearing red, white and blue and handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution.

During the 2009 special election, the dapper Walnut Creek insurance salesman and financial planner campaigned with the vigor and enthusiasm of a much younger candidate.

He said at the time that he never intended to run for Congress and was grooming others to take his place. Denham founded the Freedom Coalition, an educational organization that taught people about the U.S. Constitution.

But his protégés weren’t ready, so he put his own name on the ballot.

He was under no illusion that he would win. Only 2.3 percent of the district’s registered voters are members of his party.

Like many minority party candidates, Denham saw his candidacy as an opportunity to publicize his party’s platform.

And he was always good for a feisty quote.

“I look forward to the day when some real estate agent will pound a huge ‘For Sale’ sign in front of the Internal Revenue Services as well as many other buildings in the District of Criminals,” he said during the 2009 campaign.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on June 26 at the North Creek Church, 2303 Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen