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.