Several Republicans have declared candidacy there, but the National Republican Congressional Committee has named Colusa County Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann, 36, of Arbuckle, as its “Young Gun” to try to pick off Garamendi.
So Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., will join Garamendi for a fundraising luncheon Saturday, Feb. 25 at the San Francisco home of attorneys and real estate developers Valli and Bob Tandler. Besides the Tandlers, the host committee includes deep-pocketed Democratic mainstays Roselyne Swig, Mary and Steve Swig, and Richard Baum. Tickets range from $250 to $2,500.
I spoke with Israel on Tuesday morning for a yet-to-be-published story, and we briefly discussed Garamendi’s race. Israel, of course, said he likes Garamendi’s chances: “John has spent his time fighting for the middle class in Congress, he’s put together a strong campaign and he’s got five Republicans tearing each other apart.”
But the NRCC has anointed Vann as its standard bearer, and NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison predicted to me Tuesday that “it’s going to be a tight race” between her and Garamendi. Vann has raised her profile by being active in state and national counties’ associations, and – if you factor in some outstanding debts – finished 2011 with about $159,000 ready to spend. Garamendi, who turns 67 two weeks from tomorrow, has about $278,000 unencumbered and ready to spend.
He’s Bay Area no more – his old 10th District had included the heart of Contra Costa County, but now he hopes to represent Solano County, Lake and Colusa counties, and the Yuba-Sutter area. The NRCC notes Garamendi, who was lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner before his election to Congress in 2009, never carried this area when running for statewide office. Yet the new district’s voter registration favors Democrats by about nine percentage points, and Garamendi has an incumbent’s advantage in fundraising and name recognition.