CD11: Walnut Creek Mayor Lawson opts out of congressional bid

Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson

In yet another name of someone who will not run for the congressional seat being vacated by retiring Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson says she has decided not to seek the job.

Her announcement was somewhat expected. A respected landuse attorney with a 4 and 9-year-old still at home, taking on a major congressional campaign would have been a life-altering family decision. And that is before she even gets the job and begins those bicoastal treks between California and the Capitol. I suspect we’ll see and hear a good deal more of Lawson in the coming years, though.

Lawson’s departure all but clears the field for state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who declared himself a candidate within minutes of Miller’s retirement announcement.

Just about every politician who might have challenged DeSaulnier has taken his or her name off the table and many have outright endorsed the senator.

There’s still time to enter the fray, of course. The official filing period runs Feb. 10 through March 14. And the top two election system will give a second-place finisher in June a second bite at the seat in November. But time is running seriously short to raise money.

Here’s what Lawson had to say in an email this morning:

Dear Friends and Family,

I write this morning to thank you for your support and encouragement, and to let you know that I will not run for Congress in 2014.

I had the great fortune to be born and raised in California, and I want the same for my two children, Kate and Graham. And, I want to be here in California with them as they grow up.

I also have the great fortune to serve as the Mayor of Walnut Creek, and I am committed to working hard this year to honor our longstanding community commitments to a vibrant economy, the environment, and children and families of all types. I do plan to run for re-election to the Walnut Creek City Council.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement.






CD11: Ex-Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan won’t run

Kish Rajan, GO-Biz director

Former Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan has taken his name out of the running for the 11th congressional district seat that Rep. George Miller will vacate at the end of the year after four decades  in the House of Representatives.

Rajan left the city council in 2012 when he was offered a job as the director of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

“I love working for Gov. Brown and feel we are doing good things for the California economy,” Rajan texted a few minutes ago. “So, I plan to stick with it.”

That leaves only one name still floating around as a potential serious challenger to state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord: Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson.

The senator declared his candidacy within minutes of Miller’s retirement announcement on Jan. 14 and has locked down endorsements from almost everyone who might mount a credible challenge against him.

Lawson has said she is seriously considering running for the rare open congressional seat and is expected to make an announcement within a few days.

The other declared candidates are retired immigration judge and Republican Tue Phan-Quang of Danville and Jason Ramey, a 33-year-old political newbie from Concord. You can check out Ramey’s website at www.jasonrameyforcongress.com.


CD11: Buchanan will endorse rather than challenge DeSaulnier

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is endorsing rather than challenging state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, in the race for Contra Costa County’s largest congressional district.

DeSaulnier hopes to succeed retiring Rep. George Miller of Martinez, who will leave office at the end of the year after serving 40 years in the House of Representatives.

District 11 encompasses north and central Contra Costa County, stretching from Richmond to Pittsburg along the shoreline and southward through Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Clayton, Alamo and Danville.  See map here.

Buchanan’s departure from the District 11 field is the latest in a series of potential challengers who have instead opted to endorse the senator including Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson of Pittsburg and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord.

Buchanan was DeSaulnier’s most serious potential opponent. She and DeSaulnier both ran unsuccessfully in 2009 against then-Lt. Gov. John Garamendi for the neighboring congressional seat vacated by Ellen Tauscher.

“I’m pleased to support Mark DeSaulnier for Congress,” Buchanan said in a prepared statement from his campaign. “Mark and I share a common goal of improving California’s schools and making our K-12, community colleges, and universities the best in the nation. I’m confident that Mark will be a strong advocate for our students and families in Congress.”

The assemblywoman and former San Ramon Valley School board member will term out of office this year. Now that she has ruled out a congressional bid, she is expected to run for DeSaulnier’s senate seat.

DeSaulnier terms out in 2016 but if he is elected to Congress this fall, a special election will be set for March 2015 to fill the remainder of his term.

The senator’s campaign also released other endorsements including Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover. Other new names on the list include:

  • Antioch Mayor Wade Harper
  • Former Antioch Mayor Donald Freitas
  • Antioch City Council member Monica Wilson
  • Orinda City Council member Amy Worth
  • Orinda City Council member Victoria Smith
  • Former Richmond Mayor Jim McMillan
  • Former Richmond Mayor Erma Anderson
  • Pleasant Hill Vice-Mayor Ken Carlson
  • Pleasant Hill City Council member David Durant
  • Clayton City Council member & Former Mayor Julie Pierce
  • El Cerrito Mayor Janet Abelson
  • El Cerrito City Council member Mark Friedman

CD11: DeSaulnier secures Tauscher support

Under Secretary for International Security and Arms Control Ellen Tauscher. Photo by Karl Mondon/2011/Bay Area News Group

Former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher will endorse today State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, to succeed the retiring Democratic Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District.

Tauscher represented the neighboring District 10 for seven terms until the Obama administration appointed her in 2009 as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

DeSaulnier ran for Tauscher’s seat in 2009 and she support him. But the state senator subsequently lost to then-Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who now represents District 3 after the state’s political boundaries were redrawn in 2011.

Miller is retiring at the end of the year after serving 40 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here’s what the DeSaulnier campaign will release later this morning:


Former Congresswoman Represented Large Portion of 11th District

CONCORD, CA— On the heels of his entrance into the race last week to fill Congressman George Miller’s soon to-be vacated 11th Congressional district seat, today State Senator Mark DeSaulnier picked up a highly coveted endorsement from former Congresswoman and former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, the Honorable Ellen O. Tauscher.

Prior to the 2012 redistricting, Tauscher represented California’s old 10th Congressional district. Roughly 50% of the communities in Tauscher’s old district are now included in the new 11th Congressional district.


Mark DeSaulnier

“Mark DeSaulnier has always been a brave, forward-thinking, and passionate fighter for the people he represents,” said former Congresswoman Tauscher. “Mark is deeply connected to the communities in the 11th district, and I’m confident he’ll be a bold and progressive voice for them in Washington.  Not only does he have enormous experience and the necessary qualifications for this office, but also Mark has a real vision for a better California that must be heard in the halls of Congress. I’m proud to endorse Mark for Congress.”  Continue Reading


CD11: Retired Danville judge announces candidacy

11th Congressional District courtesy of Redistricting Partners

Retired Judge Tue Phan-Quang, a 71-year-old Republican from Danville, has announced his candidacy for the congressional seat that will open when Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, retires at the end of the year.

Phan-Quang made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting of the Walnut Creek Rotary Club, according to a statement his son, Thong Phan-Quang, sent to this newspaper. Phan-Quang was a guest speaker.

As a Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic 11th Congressional District, Phan-Quang’s chances of success are slim.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, has already entered the race. Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson and former Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan are considering it. And Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, may run.

But the retired judge’s story is an interesting one, as his son tells it in the statement he sent:

Judge Tue is 71 years old, married with 4 sons and 8 grandchildren. He and  his wife have been residents of Danville, California since 1995.

Judge Tue immigrated to the United States after the fall of Saigon in April 1975. A trained attorney in Vietnam, he completed his law studies at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. He was a Hearing Officer with the Iowa Department of Job Service for 4 years. He was appointed Assistant Attorney General with the Iowa Department of Justice in 1987. 

Judge Tue moved his family to California in 1988. He was a trial attorney with the Immigration & Naturalization Service, District Counsel Office in San Francisco from 1988-1993. From 1993-1995 he was an Administrative Law Judge with the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in Sacramento. 

He was appointed Immigration Judge In March 1995 in San Francisco where he served until his retirement in December 2012.

My colleague Josh Richman found a video about the retired judge (see below) and text of the judge’s 2012 remarks at a naturalization ceremony in Oakland.


CD11: Great NYT story about Miller’s D.C. flophouse

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Check out this super smart New York Times story by Ashley Parker at the NYT:

WASHINGTON — This week’s news that Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, is planning to retire at the end of the year reverberated around the House of Representatives, where Mr. Miller has served since 1975.

But the news hit even harder around another less stately, more fratlike house about a quarter-mile southeast of the Capitol, where Mr. Miller has lived for more than 30 years with a rotating cadre of congressional Democrats — and which served as the inspiration for the Amazon web series “Alpha House.”

Mr. Miller, 68, who owns the two-story, two-bedroom house — part messy crash pad, part political seminar — currently shares it with Senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the majority whip, and Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat … 

Read the rest of the story here.