Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the '2009 CD10 special election' Category

CD10: National GOP drops mailers for Harmer

The National Republican Congressional Committee has dropped two mailers (shown below) in the 10th District on behalf of GOP candidate David Harmer, providing a late but clear investment in a heavily Democratic district most political experts view as unwinnable for a Republican.

The election is Nov. 3 but many voters have already cast their ballots in the mail. Election officials expect the percentage of those who vote by mail in this low turnout special election will exceed 75 percent.

The mailers do not actually mention Harmer’s name. Both mailers urge voters to vote “no” on his opponent, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi.

One shows Garamendi pictured with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and says the two Democrats’ policies are sending Americans into the poor house. The other targets Garamendi’s support for tax increases.

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | 4 Comments »

CD10: NRCC support for Harmer remains modest

David Harmer

David Harmer

Despite election countdown fervor from pro-GOP David Harmer forces, the National Republican Congressional Committee does not yet view him as a “contender” in his bid against Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi in the 10th congressional district special election on Tuesday.

A Roll Call story today reports that the committee elevated nine candidates in its Young Guns program — its targeted candidate initiative — from “On the Radar” to “Contender.”Harmer was not among the nine selected for the second tier. No candidate has yet achieved the highest ranking of “Young Gun.”

NRCC spokeswoman Joanna Burgos insists Harmer’s status does not reflect a lack of support. The Young Guns program requires candidates to meet benchmarks for fundraising, campaign organization and develoment of a media plan. The higher the candidate climbs, in theory, the more resources the national party will throw in his or her direction.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., compared it in Roll Call to the Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

It’s unclear what Harmer lost when he failed to make the “contender” list other than bragging rights. The NRCC declined to say what kind of dollars are on the table.

But the NRCC is helping Harmer with get-out-the-vote activities and helped pay for a poll in early October, although I suspect the Harmer campaign was hoping for more tangible signs of the party’s enthusiasm … like a big fat independent expenditure.

Other than labor-sponsored mailers in the Sept. 1 primary for Garamendi, there have been no independent expenditures in this campaign. It yet another indication that special interests view this race as either unwinnable or in the bag, and have put their resources into more competitive seat.

Even most Republican political consultants view this seat as out of reach for a GOP candidate with its 18-point Democratic registration advantage coupled with Garamendi’s money and name identification.

Harmer hopes disgruntled voters and a strong volunteer ground campaign will lead to an upset but there is scant evidence at this point to reject conventional wisdom. on Monday tallied up the party registration of folks that have already voted by mail in the district’s four counties and found Democrats leading Republicans by 5,000 ballots.

It’s entirely possible that some of those Democrats voted for Harmer. But party registration is the single-most reliable indicator of an election’s outcome. Had a disportionate number of Republicans already voted, Garamendi might have something to worry about, California Target Book co-author Allan Hoffenblum told me last week.

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Congressional District 10 | 11 Comments »

CD10: Garamendi unveils anti-Harmer TV ad

Democratic 10th congressional candidate and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi appears to be ramping up his campaign assault on Republican opponent David Harmer.

Garamendi commissioned a robocall over the weekend about Social Security and this morning, he released a new television ad, “Two Cents,” that speaks largely to public schools. (See link below.)

Pro-Harmer forces say it’s a sign that Garamendi is desperate. It’s more likely that Garamendi wants to expand his lead in the Nov. 3 election and solidify his position heading into the June 2010 primary. Garamendi has an 18-point party registration advantage, major name identification and twice as much money as Harmer. Let’s put it this way: If Garamendi loses this election, Democrats are in big, big trouble.

The contents of the ad match Garamendi’s characterizations of Harmer’s positions in a mail piece a few weeks ago.

Like most campaign materials, the truth of its claims is all in the interpretation.

Garamendi’s chief point in this ad is that Harmer wrote a book calling for the end to public education.

It’s true that Harmer wrote a book in the early 1990s. “School Choice: Why You Need It, How You Get It” was published by the Cato Institute and contains an eloquent endorsement by then Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, now an independent from Connecticut.

But Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz and Harmer say the book never calls for the elimination of public schools. Instead, the men say the book promoted the concept that residents should be able to direct the tax dollars they pay for education into the schools of their choice, whether it’s a public, private, charter or religious facility. Let schools compete for students and schools and children will benefit, Harmer said.

The Harmers don’t act as though they want to end public schools. Harmer’s four young children attend public school in San Ramon. His wife, Elayne, is a substitute public school teacher. And Harmer has helped a public school in his neighborhood raise almost $200,000. Presumably Harmer, an attorney, could afford to send his children to a private school.

On the other hand, the Harmers live in Dougherty Valley, an affluent suburb where most view the public schools as excellent. And critics of school choice say adoption of such a program would severely undermine an already over-stressed public school system and unfairly dump tax dollars into private institutions that may not advance the broader goals of society.

Here’s the ad:

Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Congressional District 10 | 7 Comments »

CD10: Garamendi hits Harmer with robocall

Democratic congressional candidate Lt. Gov. John Garamendi sent out a robocall over the weekend into the senior citizen Rossmoor community about his Republican opponent David Harmer’s position on Social Security.

Rossmoor Republican Club President Tom Fryer played the call for me this morning, in which a woman who identifies herself as Shirley Zucker* says: “I have been a Republican all of my life but I am calling on behalf of John Garamendi. I rarely vote against our party’s nominee. But Garamendi’s opponent wants to privatize Society Security. My Social Security is too important to my future to consider such a risky scheme.”

I’ll put on my truth squad hat.

Yes, Harmer supports privatization of Social Security. He favors allowing workers to redirect the money they currently pay into the government system into private accounts. He says the workers, not the government, should control their own money.

But the implication that Harmer wants to strip old people of their Social Security checks is false. Harmer has specifically said that he supports the benefit but believes individuals would receive a greater benefit through a privately run system.

Whether or not a private Social Security system would outperform the government program is a matter of intense debate on both sides.

But scaring old people in their homes with a robocall is wrong, Fryer said.

He’s right.

* This is my best guess as to the spelling of the caller’s name. I have asked the Garamendi campaign for more information about her. She may not even live in District 10 or California, for that matter.

As a sidenote, yes, robocalls are illegal in California. But candidates often use out-of-state call centers that do not come under the state’s jurisdiction. And when it comes to political speech, protected under the First Amendment, the robocall ban is almost never enforced.

Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Congressional District 10 | 4 Comments »

CD10: Garamendi to air TV ad

Democratic Lt.Gov. John Garamendi has bought $45,000 worth of television air time through Election Day on a variety of stations including Home & Garden, said campaign spokesman Josh Franco.

The ad emphasizes Garamendi’s long tenure in public office and his policy experience. It never mentions his opponent, Republican David Harmer.

Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Congressional District 10 | 2 Comments »

CD10: Garamendi outraises Harmer almost 2 to 1

David Harmer

David Harmer

John Garamendi

John Garamendi

Federal election reports filed as of midnight last night show Democratic Lt. Governor John Garamendi significantly outpaced his Republican opponent David Harmer in fundraising for the 10th Congressional District seat.

Garamendi has raised $938,788, nearly double that of Harmer at $489,006.

The election is Nov. 3.

In other details in the report, Harmer received 91 percent of his contributions from individuals rather than political parties or political action committees. Garamendi reported 78 percent of his donations came from individuals while remainder came from PACs and political committees.

As of the the close of filing, Garamendi had in the bank $133,288 and $34,400 in debts. Harmer reported $59,987 in cash on hand and $45,214 in debts.

Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, 2010 election, Congressional District 10 | 6 Comments »

Soggy ballots show up in Contra Costa

Last year, Weir irons ballots that wouldnt feed properly in his voting equipment.

Last year, Weir irons ballots that wouldn't feed properly in his voting equipment.

Does anyone have an extra hair dryer handy?

Nearly 200 ballots sent by Contra Costa voters through the mail for the Nov. 3 special election showed up in his office today soaking wet, an apparent victim of Tuesday’s deluge.

His staff has hung the ballots on drying racks.

On a couple of ballots, the signatures on the outside were unreadable and his staff has returned them to the voters with an explanation and new ballots.

As for the remaining ballots, he is crossing his fingers that they are readable once his staff opens the envelopes starting Oct. 23.

If the water washed away the voters’ marks, the ballots cannot be counted and these voters will have no chance to replace the ballots. Under state law, election clerks must immediately separate the envelope from the ballot as soon as they open it in order to preserve the voter’s right to cast a secret vote.

Back in June 2008, Weir received hundreds of wrinkled ballots that jammed in his scanning equipment. So, he ironed them.

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | No Comments »

Garamendi mailer quotes wrong David Harmer


A campaign mailer from 10th Congressional District candidate and Democrat Lt. Gov. John Garamendi that hit mailboxes today contained a reference to a quote from the wrong guy.

The Garamendi mailer states that his Republican challenger “David Harmer supports off shoring jobs” and cites a story from the Utah’s Deseret News from April 23, 2004.

Unfortunately for Garamendi’s opposition research team, the story quotes the David Harmer who was executive director of the Utah State Department of Community and Economic Development.

The David Harmer who is running against Garamendi never held that job and wasn’t living in Utah at the time. It’s a different David Harmer.

“This is a huge error on Garmendi’s part,” said Harmer campaign manager Mike Caporusso.  “Garamendi has mailed a completely false and inaccurate charge against David Harmer, and we demand he immediately apologize and retract his smear attack.”

UPDATED 7:30 AM TO ADD GARAMENDI RESPONSE: In response to the error, Garamendi said , “The important point is that David Harmer opposes President Obama’s efforts to create jobs in the 10th congressional district, provide for our schools and children, repair our roads and highways, deliver much needed medical services, and fund research programs. The bottom line is that David Harmer’s positions are just out of touch with the people of the 10th congressional district.”

“Huge” might be a bit of an overstatement, but Caporusso is Harmer’s campaign manager. What else would you expect him to say?

And the Harmer camp doesn’t much like the rest of the mailer, either. Expect more on that front later.

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | 23 Comments »

CD10: Harmer bypassed ballot statement

David Harmer

David Harmer

To all those folks calling up election clerks and demanding (rudely, in some cases) to know why only the Democratic candidate in the Nov. 3 10th Congressional District special election has a statement in the ballot pamphlet, here is the scoop: Republican nominee David Harmer did not submit one and Democrat Lt. Gov. John Garamendi did.

Harmer’s campaign manager Mike Caporusso says they made a strategic decision to spend the $6,600 elsewhere. (Update 10/13/09: I failed to note that the $6,600 cost is for Contra Costa County only. Combined with the filing fees in Solano, Alameda and Sacramento counties, the cost exceeded $10,000. It’s also worthing mentioning that the deadline to file and pay for the candidate statement for the Nov. 3 runoff election was Aug. 7, almost a month prior to the Sept. 1 primary election. In other words, candidates had to pay for the statement before they knew they would even appear on the Nov. 3 ballot. However, the losing candidates in the primary received a refund of any money paid for the Nov. 3 ballot statement.)

Yes, that’s how it works. You can stop harassing the election clerks now.

Candidates may submit statements for inclusion in the ballot pamphlet but the candidates — not the taxpayers — have to pay their share of the printing costs.

Most candidates view the statement as a relatively cheap means by which to communicate with every registered voter, especially when compared with the cost of sending out an individual mail piece.

The Harmer camp says they can spend that money more effectively through other forms of communication. What forms?  They won’t say.

Harmer did include a ballot statement in the primary special election where he needed to distinguish himself in the large field of Republicans seeking the nomination.

We’ll find out soon enough if their strategy works.

Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | No Comments »

CD10: Candidate forum set for Oct. 26

The five candidates in the Nov. 3 special general election to replace former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher will participate in an Oct. 26 public forum at Saint Mary’s College.

In addition to the college, the event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley and the Contra Costa Times.

Tauscher was confirmed in June as Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the U.S. State Department.

The candidates include Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Democrat; David Harmer, Republican; Mary McIlroy, Peace and Freedom; Jeremy Cloward, Green Party; and Jerry Denham, American Independent.
The bulk of the 10th Congressional District is in Contra Costa County, with smaller segments in Solano, Alameda and Sacramento counties.

The bulk of the 10th Congressional District is in Contra Costa County, with smaller segments in Solano, Alameda and Sacramento counties. (Click here for a map of the district.)

I will moderate the forum and pose questions to the candidates submitted by members of the audience.

The free forum will be held from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Soda Activity Center at Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga. (Click here for driving directions to the college.)

A video of the forum will also be made available at and air on local public access television stations.

CCTV will air the candidates’  forum on Oct. 30, 8 p.m.; Oct. 31, 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., and Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.

Posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Political events | No Comments »