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Garamendi hires chief of staff

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has hired as his chief of staff Scott Fay, former senior adviser to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

According to Garamendi’s office, Fay held various positions during his nine years on Kennedy’s staff including constituent outreach advisor, scheduler, operations director and most recently as his senior adviser and national political director. As political director, Faw oversaw outreach to various national organizations to promote Kennedy’s  national agenda across the country and at home in Massachusetts.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Scott Fay will be joining my team,” Garamendi said in a prepared release. ” Because of his many years of service to Senator Kennedy, Scott comes with a wealth of political experience and a deep understanding of how Congress and government works.”

Fay holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Boston University and a master’s degree in public communication from American University in Washington, D.C. He will start his new post in January.

Posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, U.S. House | No Comments »

Harmer may take a run at CD11

David Harmer

David Harmer

The Mormon Times, published by the Utah-based Deseret News, reports that Republican congressional candidate David Harmer may run again but  for a neighboring seat.

Harmer ran unsuccessfully in District 10 earlier this year, losing to then-sitting Democratic California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi.

District 11 is a far more GOP-friendly district with almost dead-even registration between the two major parties.

But Harmer doesn’t live in District 11, a detail that no longer seems to matter to many voters.

They elected Garamendi, who doesn’t live in District 10. His Walnut Grove home is just across the river from the district boundary.

Harmer lives in Dougherty Valley, not far from the line between the 10th and 11th districts.

Harmer would have a far more difficult primary in the 11th District, however. A half-dozen Republicans have already announced their candidacies and are raising money.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the Mormon Times story:

Former congressional candidate may run again

By Jeffrey R. Unalp

For Mormon Times

Friday, Dec. 11, 2009

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — Former California 10th Congressional District candidate David J. Harmer said he may run again, but this time it would be for the 11th Congressional District seat.

He believes it is his obligation and calling as a free American Mormon.

Harmer spoke to the East Bay BYU Management Society on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Introduced as a candidate who ran the race with integrity that was “unbecoming of a politician,” Harmer then detailed the difficulties he faced in his bid for the 10th District seat.

Harmer said he ran because he was prompted by the Spirit. He said his family is currently studying Captain Moroni, and like Captain Moroni, American Mormons must hoist the Title of Liberty. “Freedom is a pre-condition of everything else God has in his plan,” he said.

He said running again is a bit like being asked to play the organ at stake conference; if he declined he would feel bad as he believes it is his calling.

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, congressional district 11 | 1 Comment »

Garamendi holds town hall meetings tomorrow

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, was among Democrats who characterized today’s jobs report as a good sign:

“Today’s announcement that the unemployment rate dropped in November is welcomed news for the millions of American workers, including tens of thousands of people in my district, struggling to find a job in this difficult economy. The Recovery Act and other jobs-creating measures have laid down the building blocks to repair our economy.

“Our efforts have kept teachers, nurses, and police officers in their jobs and boots are already on the ground to rebuild our roads, bridges, and public transportation systems. There is much more to be done to create jobs, and I will be there every step of the way.”

Agree? Disagree? Go tell him face-to-face tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 5, as he holds his first town-hall meetings in Contra Costa and Solano counties (after holding one in Livermore last month):

    10 a.m. to noon – Solano County Supervisors’ chambers, 675 Texas St. in Fairfield

I’m sure he’ll be fielding plenty of questions about his vote on health-care reform, too.

Posted on Friday, December 4th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, John Garamendi | 3 Comments »

Former Tauscher aid to join BART

Former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher’s district director, Jennifer Barton, has been selected BART’s new executive manager of external affairs.

BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger told her team this morning of her choice of Barton, who has been the face of District 10 for seven years. (See memo below.)

Barton has been working for newly elected Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, during the transition.

But BART is a good fit for Barton. She knows transportation; Tauscher was the ranking Californian on the House Transportation Committee. And Barton is highly respected and well-liked among East Bay power brokers.

“I am thrilled to have this new job at BART,” Barton said. “I started the application process back in June. It’s hard to leave such a great congressional shop, although I will still have the opportunity in my new job to work with a lot of the same people.”

Barton will succeed Katherine Strehl, who retired from BART.

Garamendi had this to say about Barton:  “I want to thank Jennifer Barton for her service to the 10th Congressional District. She has been an invaluable resource during my Congressional transition. While I am sad to see her go, I am happy for Jennifer and glad that BART has hired such a knowledgable and competent person as their director of external affairs. I look forward to working with Jennifer in her new capacity in the years to come.”

Read on for memo from Dugger:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Transportation | 1 Comment »

Garamendi wins transportation assignment

Rep. John Garamendi

Rep. John Garamendi

House Democratic leaders have recommended Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, be appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The House Democratic Steering Committee has also voted to place Garamendi on the Science and Technology Committee.

The full House Democratic caucus is expected to ratify the appointments when it reconvenes.

Garamendi, like his predecessor, Ellen Tauscher, will be the only Northern California representative on the transportation panel.

Congress is scheduled to reauthorize its national transportation spending blueprint in the next year. The legislation typically contains formulas that spell out the return of gas tax dollars to states. Committee members have considerable influence over its contents as well as earmarks for specific projects.

Garamendi was elected to District 10 on Nov. 3. The district includes Walnut Creek, Lamorinda, Livermore and smaller segments of Solano and Sacramento counties.

Read on for Garamendi’s press release on the subject.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10 | 2 Comments »

Rep. Garamendi holds debut town hall

A week after he took the oath of office. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, held his first congressional town hall.

More than 100 people packed the Livermore City Council chambers through the lunch hour today. It was, for the most part, a friendly crowd although opponents of his favorable vote on the House’s health care legislation on Saturday made themselves heard.

Garamendi initially listened to an unconventional welcome from the always unconventional Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena. (Kamena joking offered to get Garamendi tickets to a football game at UC-Berkeley, the college where the congressman played football. Garamendi remined the mayor of the $10 gift limit. “Given the Bears’ record, I don’t think the tickets will be worth $10!” Kamena retorted.)

The congressman then heard presentations about the Livermore Valley Open Campus, a city collaborative with the national laboratories to foster the creation of high-tech jobs in the area.

But the audience was there to ask questions. Members of Congress have increasingly turned to the use of telephone-based town halls, ostensibly to reach a wider audience but also to avoid confrontational voters angry about Democratic policies.

Garamendi answered queries about his desire to see an increase in federal funding for education and his outlook on the future of the national laboratories.

He told them he opposed an increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan and said he had read the vast majority of the 2,000-page health care bill including all the summaries of key sections.

He declined to state a preferred location of the planned BART extension into Livermore — on the freeway or downtown — and said it was the community’s decision.

The tensest moments, as expected, during the questions about health care legislation as residents decried the move as a government take-over of medical care that will hurt the national economy and contribute to unemployment rates.

Garamendi vigorously and unapologetically defended his support of the bill and the public option as a few audience members shouted “Shame on you!” He called medical insurance companies “sharks” whose sole purpose is to hike profits through the denial of coverage to sick people.

He may be a new congressman but the former lieutenant governor of California and 35-year veteran of public office easily handled his outspoken critics. He mildly admonished both sides and urged them to refrain from clapping and yelling in the interests of avoiding a deterioration of civil discourse.

Garamendi will hold several more town halls in District 10 before the end of the year. The dates and places have not been finalized.

I recorded Garamendi’s opening statements and portions of his comments on health care, which you will find linked below.

Posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10 | 9 Comments »

Garamendi schedules first town hall

As promised in public statements prior to his election on Nov. 3, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has scheduled the first of three in-person town halls before the end of the year.

He invites constituents to join him at a brownbag lunch town hall in Livermore on Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-1 City Hall, 3575 Pacific Ave., Livermore. (It’s not a telephone town hall; you can come and see him in person.)

Prior to the town hall, Garamendi will meet with local transportation and elected officials

Two of the other town halls will be held on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. The times and locations will be announced when they have been finalized.

Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Political calendar, Political events | 7 Comments »

Garamendi still waits on committee assignments

John and Patty Garamendi on Election Night in Walnut Creek.

John and Patty Garamendi on Election Night in Walnut Creek.

With health care and other pressing legislative issues on the House of Representatives’ agenda, newly sworn-in Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has not yet been assigned committees.

Garamendi told me a few minutes ago, as he said throughout his campaign, he hopes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership team will place him on the House Transportation Committee. Northern California has no representative on the committee.

But beyond transportation, Garamendi is not publicy expressing his preferences. He has expertise and interest in numerous policy areas, but as the lowest-seniority member, he will not have his pick of assignments.

“Most of the focus by the leaders, Nancy and others, is on the health care bill right now,” Garamendi said. “I did talk with preliminarily with (Rep.) George Miller about the need for a Northern California representative on the transportation and infrastructure committee.”

He described his first day in Congress as a “great day. Very busy. It was very good.”

The health care vote has been put off until the weekend. But he cast votes on bills that, among other things, extended the homebuyers’ tax credit.

Pelosi swore him into office just after noon in Washington, D.C. His wife, Patty, his six children and seven of  his grandchildren watched from the viewing gallery or the floor. Children age 10 and under are permitted to sit on the floor. (Two of the grandkids had to stay home; they have the flu.)

Garamendi plans to return to California and participate in Veteran’s Day ceremonies in the district next week but he said it will depend on the House voting schedule.

A vote on health care legislation is expected to take place on Saturday if lawmakers settle on language related to restricting the use of federal dollars for abortion and illegal immigrants.

Posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10 | 17 Comments »

Garamendi sworn in



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sworn in California’s newest congressman this morning, Democrat John Garamendi of the 10th District.

Watch the ceremony and Garamendi’s comments at roughly at this link: Scroll over to 129:20 or so to the start of the Garamendi swearing-in portion of the video.

Read on for his press release.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10 | 1 Comment »

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 »