Big SF fundraiser planned for John Garamendi

National Democrats are bringing out some heavy hitters to raise money for Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, as he seeks re-election in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District.

John GaramendiSeveral 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.”

Kim VannBut 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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Rick K.

    It’s time for “Live Shot” Garamendi to be booted from public office. Has anyone else noticed that Garamendi the Chameleon is the “jack of all trades, master of none”? Yesterday he was a “health policy expert,” today he’s a “water expert,” tomorrow he’ll claim to be a “farming expert.” He’s only as deep as the next cable TV interview. Plus Garamendi has never been held accountable for his nepotism and cronyism. He claims to be oh-so-sympathetic to UC Davis students and their rising fees, but he’s silent about how he parlayed his seat on the UC Merced Foundation board into a $210,000 a year job at UC Merced for his 30-something year-old son John Garamendi, Jr. He also knows how to play the “revolving door” game with his cronies and political donors. Even Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a fellow Democrat, had harsh words for Garamendi’s incompetence/corruption as Insurance Commissioner in the Exec Life scandal. In 1998, Garamendi left the Clinton Administration to be “Washington, DC investment partner” for Yucaipa Companies, where he had a mysterious “investment banking” job. See this 1999 Forbes magazine expose: http://www.forbes.com/global/1999/1227/0226024a.html Garamendi oh-so-piously criticizes Wall Street and the “1%” when he himself rode on their gravy train in the go-go days of the late 1990s. What a hypocrite. The people of Vacaville, Davis, Marysville and Yuba City and points in between — both Occupiers and Tea Party people alike — need to rise up this June and November and kick “Live Shot” Garamendi, a professional politician/crony capitalist since 1974, to the curb!

  • rew

    I supported DeSaulnier in the Garamedi-Desaulnier race, in that campaign we tried to depict Garamendi as a Darth Vadar type figure – didn’t work – but we tried. Actually, Garamedi has turned out to be great Congressman. 40 seconds after he got elected he was championing health care reform on floor of house – fighting for workers who have no health care, got to like that. That’s what I would do if I was a Congressman, how can we get all Americans in a health plan, health is good, it’s bad to having people dying prematurely because of lack of health care. Garamendi rocks.

  • Publius


    Instead of giving away free health care and making individuals more dependent on the government Garamendi should fight for smaller more accountable government. Garamendi is a tax and spend liberal just like the other bay area reps. Their ideology is perpetuating the decay of our country. Garamendi and the others are complete failures. With the unemployment rate in Ca. over 20% and our taxes so high I am astounded when I hear people like Rew give props to these people.