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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Garamendi mailer quotes wrong David Harmer

Ooops.

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.