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Buchanan named to Delta Protection Commission

Assembly Speaker John Perez has named Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, to serve as an ex-officio member of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Protection Commission, which protects, maintains and enhances the Delta’s environment, Buchanan announced.

“Recognizing and enhancing the unique cultural, recreational and agricultural resources of the Delta benefits all Californians,” she said in her news release. “Everyone in California depends on the Delta for something.”

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Protection Act of 2009 gave the commission the responsibility to make recommendations to the Delta Stewardship Council on ways to preserve the region; it’s currently working up an economic sustainability plan.

Buchanan noted most of the Delta is within her 15th Assembly District. “We must ensure that the Delta is a region where agriculture, habitat, recreation and residents thrive together,” she said in her release, noting the commission has a critical role in that and she’s pleased to have been appointed to it.

Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Joan Buchanan, John Perez | No Comments »

Buchanan v. Wilson: The final AD15 numbers

Some of the numbers came in too late for inclusion in my roundup for tomorrow’s paper, but campaign finance reports filed today show the East Bay’s only hotly contested general election for a state legislative seat was quite costly.

Incumbent Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, raised $3.275 million and spent $3.266 million in 2009-10 to fend off a challenge from Republican nominee Abram Wilson, San Ramon’s mayor; Wilson raised $1.27 million and spent $1.258 million.

Buchanan defeated Wilson by a little more than 13,000 votes, a margin of 6.8 percentage points. It was a hard-fought race, but I think Buchanan probably scored the most crushing blow with an advertisement calling attention to the seemingly exorbitant salary paid to San Ramon’s city manager – something sure to irk many California votes in a year in which public salary and benefit scandals like the one in Bell attracted so much outrage. It cast a shadow over Wilson’s claim to fiscal conservative bona fides, and that was all she wrote.

Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011
Under: 2010 election, Assembly, campaign finance, Joan Buchanan | 5 Comments »

E.Bay lawmakers react to Jerry Brown’s SOTS

Some East Bay lawmakers are sounding off on the State of the State address that Gov. Jerry Brown delivered earlier this evening. Guess what: They liked it.

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

“This governor is being honest with the Legislature and the voters. We can no longer pretend the state can right its ship without serious action. As Senate Majority Leader, I am committed to working across the aisle and with voters up and down the state to make sure we, once and for all, put California’s budget crisis behind us. Every single person in Sacramento and the state wants California to again be a leader in jobs and prosperity.”

From Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo:

“Less than a week after assuming office, Governor Brown presented us with a budget that does not rely on accounting gimmicks or inflated revenue projections. He continued the dialogue tonight by talking honestly about the difficult choices all of us must make – Democrats and Republicans. It also is clear that the Governor understands the tremendous potential of California and the contributions that critical programs like education have made to our economy and our lifestyles. I share his vision and his optimism.

“I was born in California at a time when we were the leader in education, aerospace, research and many other industries. Anything was possible in our state then because we made critical investments in our infrastructure, and we were disciplined in how we spent our money and repaid our debt.

“I believe the Governor has been very forthright about the tough road that lies ahead and we must come together as Californians and be willing to make the sacrifices required to right our financial ship and rebuild our infrastructure, our schools, our colleges, our roads. It is both a fiscal and a moral imperative if our children are going to have the same opportunities as our generation.

“The Governor has repeatedly shared his commitment to education and to creating good jobs. These are two of my top priorities. As a budget subcommittee chair, I am holding hearings to review the Governor’s budget to allow for a thorough review and public comment as well as timely action. I am looking forward to continuing my work to help our great state regain its place as a leader in our nation.”

From Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“I think Governor Brown is being straight-forward and very candid about the challenges facing California and people find that refreshing. He’s not using any smoke and mirrors or Hollywood flash, nor is he searching for scapegoats.

“The reality is there aren’t any quick fixes or silver bullets to get us out of this mess. We need to cushion the blow for those families who have already suffered the most from the recession, and we need to stimulate job growth. We can do that by becoming more competitive in manufacturing, putting people to work to modernize our facilities and make them more energy efficient, and by investing in our universities to advance our biotech industries.

“Our challenges are daunting, but they can be overcome by the creativity and imagination that has made our state the eighth-largest economy in the world.”

As the Bay Area has elected no Republicans to this Legislature, I picked a few GOP voices from elsewhere in the state. Follow me after the jump to read ‘em…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Jerry Brown, Joan Buchanan, Mimi Walters, Tom Harman | 1 Comment »

More from local lawmakers on Brown’s budget

I spent the day speaking with Bay Area lawmakers about Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, and as always, there was a lot more than could fit into the story filed for the print editions.

Fiona Ma“Democrats elected Jerry Brown and part of why we elected him is because of his leadership, the fact that he’s been there and done that and now has the courage to tell the voters the real deal and make those cuts, even in the face of opposition from our traditional allies and friends,” said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, predicting that while some details might be dickered over, Brown’s overall plan won’t see much opposition from legislative Democrats.

As for legislative Republicans, she said, they’ve never presented a full budget plan of their own: “They have not been part of the solution… They’ve just been saying ‘no, no, no.’”

Voters will have to see past ideology and idealism this year, she said. “We just explain the reality: We have 33 cents in our pocket yet we want to go buy the toy that costs a dollar and we’ve maxed out all our credit cards – well, that’s not going to work anymore.”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, said she already has been telling her constituents they can’t both expect lowered taxes and full, quality state services, and has found “people are very receptive in terms of knowing someone understands the problem and is honest with them.”

Buchanan said everyone has certain programs they’d like to protect, but the reality is that California must decide how to get the most bang for the bucks it already has. Brown’s plan acknowledges this, she said: “I can’t say it’s perfect or that I’ll necessarily agree with every single part of it … but when I look at how he’s put the whole package together, I think overall he’s done an excellent job.”

Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, says specificity will be the key in convincing Californians to support extending the taxes already in effect for another five years, as Brown proposes. The message has to be that if those taxes aren’t extended, “then your school district will look like this, and your public safety system in California will look like this,” he said. “We need to show everyone, and I need to see it too – I have an understanding and a perception of how it would be, but I need to know how painful it would be – how many fewer teachers would we have?

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said she’s “pleased that our schools are at least being maintained, our K-12 schools, at the level they were this year – we can’t throw away a generation of children. The other cuts, we’re going to have start engaging in great detail.”

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, said “we just have to be realistic about what we can do, where we’re going, and focus on creating some real structural reform,” adding that while she may not agree with every element of Brown’s plan, his personal engagement with lawmakers is refreshing. “It’s great, but at the same time, this is going to be really tough.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Fiona Ma, Jerry Hill, Joan Buchanan, Mary Hayashi, Nancy Skinner, state budget | 2 Comments »

Lawmakers ride out-of-district money wave

California lawmakers over the past three years raised 79 percent of campaign funds from outside their districts, according to a new study by the data-crunching wizards at Berekeley-based nonpartisan nonprofit MAPLight.org.

MAPLight.org (that’s “MAP” as in “Money In Politics”) found California legislators serving as of Aug. 31, 2009 – 79 Assembly members and 40 Senators – raised $97.9 million in campaign funds from January 2007 through March 2010, with $77.5 million coming from outside the district. About $11.9 (12 percent) came from in-district, while the remaining $8.6 million (9 percent) couldn’t be definitively located.

More than half of the lawmakers (68 out of 117 members, or 58 percent) raised 80 percent or more of their campaign funds from outside their districts; 19 lawmakers raised 90 percent or more of their funds from outside their districts.

“Not a single legislator in California raised the majority of their campaign funds from in-district, where their voters live.” MAPLight.org Executive Director Daniel Newman said in a news release. “Instead of a voter democracy, we have a donor democracy.”

“With out-of-district fundraising at a staggering 80 percent, the problem is not with a few bad apples, but with a rotten barrel,” he said. “This report shows that our campaign finance system is broken. This remote control system works well for wealthy interest groups, but not for voters.”

Here’s how the Bay Area delegation stacked up in percentage of contributions from out of district, and rank among the 119 lawmakers surveyed:

  • Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose – 94.0 percent (#5)
  • Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley – 92.7 percent (#10)
  • State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro – 89.1 percent (#21)
  • Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, San Francisco – 87.8 percent (#29)
  • Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Newark – 87.5 percent (#33)
  • State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco – 85.5 percent (#40)
  • State Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose – 85.4 percent (#43)
  • Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City – 83.2 percent (#54)
  • Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch – 82.9 percent (#56)
  • Assemblyman Jim Beall Jr., D-San Jose – 82.5 percent (#59)
  • Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda – 80.4 percent (#64)
  • Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino – 80.0 percent (#68)
  • Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo – 79.2 percent (#72)
  • Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis – 76.9 percent (#79)
  • Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa – 74.7 percent (#85)
  • State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord – 74.5 percent (#87)
  • Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael – 72.5 percent (#91)
  • Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – 67.4 percent (#100)
  • State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto – 63.4 percent (#102)
  • Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco – 62.1 percent (#105)
  • Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo – 62.0 percent (#106)
  • State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco – 58.9 percent (#110)
  • State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berekeley – 57.9 percent (#112)
  • And, in case you’re wondering where the money comes from, the top 15 ZIP codes of contributions to legislators were:

    1 Sacramento, CA 95814 – $23,149,034 (23.66%)
    2 San Francisco, CA 94105 – $2,034,877 (2.08%)
    3 Sacramento, CA 95833 – $1,408,211 (1.44%)
    4 Los Angeles, CA 90020 – $1,395,635 (1.43%)
    5 Burlingame CA, 94010 – $1,280,137 (1.31%)
    6 Los Angeles, CA 90071 – $1,054,345 (1.08%)
    7 Newport Beach, CA 92660 –$972,717 (0.99%)
    8 Sacramento, CA 95811 – $843,928 (0.86%)
    9 Sacramento, CA 95816 – $839,730 (0.86%)
    10 Los Angeles, CA 90017 – $741,449 (0.76%)
    11 Oakland, CA 94612 – $698,200 (0.71%)
    12 Sacramento. CA 95834 – $669,150 (0.68%)
    13 Pasadena, CA 91101 – $625,373 (0.64%)
    14 Los Angeles, CA 90010 – $621,677 (0.64%)
    15 San Francisco, CA 94111 – $583,888 (0.60%)

    MAPLight.org is among supporters of Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, which would try out a system of public financing of election campaigns in the 2014 and 2018 elections for Secretary of State, funded by an increase in lobbyist registration fees.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, Alberto Torrico, Assembly, ballot measures, California State Senate, campaign finance, Elaine Alquist, Ellen Corbett, Fiona Ma, Jerry Hill, Joan Buchanan, Joe Coto, Joe Simitian, Leland Yee, Loni Hancock, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Mary Hayashi, Nancy Skinner, Sandre Swanson, Tom Ammiano, Tom Torlakson | 3 Comments »

    CD10: Tauscher’s endorsement questioned

    A Lafayette attorney wants State Department lawyers to force Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher to repudiate her endorsement of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to succeed her in Congress.

    And DeSaulnier rival John Garamendi made sure to give Tauscher a heads-up.

    Jason A. Bezis – who in the final days of Tauscher’s Congressional career was berating her for what he says were too few and too inaccessible CD10 town meetings – has drafted an extensive memo, with exhibits, illustrating his complaint that Tauscher is in violation of State Department rules.

    “The State Department’s ‘Rules on Political Activities’ state their rationale, ‘The Department has a long-standing policy of limiting participation in partisan campaigns by its top officials and political appointees in recognition of the bipartisan character of our foreign policy,’” Bezis noted in an e-mail to the DeSaulnier campaign accompanying the memo. “Therefore, Undersecretary Tauscher’s endorsement of your campaigns has the potential of harming American foreign policy. Your acceptance and prominent use of her endorsement may have a similar damaging effect.

    He’s asking that DeSaulnier’s campaign remove all reference’s to Tauscher’s endorsement from its Web sites; remove from circulation and destroy any campaign literature and fundraising invitations stating or implying the endorsement; advise other Democratic groups to do the same; instruct staff and volunteers not to mention Tauscher’s endorsement; and omit any mention from it from future advertisements.

    “Senator DeSaulnier is seeking to become a federal lawmaker. It is imperative, especially as an aspiring federal legislator, that he follows the letter and spirit of existing federal law. Mr. DeSaulnier should not enjoy ‘fruit from the poisonous tree’ of Undersecretary Tauscher’s illegal endorsement,” Bezis wrote in his e-mail.

    Garamendi’s campaign sent a copy of Bezis’ memo this week to a Tauscher aide, with a cover note that said:

    I have been informed by a lawyer in the 10th Congressional District that he is preparing a formal complaint concerning U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher’s endorsement of California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in the run up to the September 1st Special Election.
    I am a long time friend of Ellen’s and I do not want her to be jeopardized in any way. As a former Deputy Secretary at Interior, I am aware of the issue that she faces and I wanted the Undersecretary to know of this problem ahead of any formal complaint. Please let me know what the Undersecretary intends to do.
    Attached is the draft of the lawyer’s memo.
    Sincerely,
    John Garamendi

    DeSaulnier campaign spokeswoman Katie Merrill offered just one word of response today: “Seriously?”

    Tauscher’s office declined comment, but longtime Tauscher campaign consultant Lisa Tucker – no longer in the Under Secretary’s employ – said this is “sour grapes” on Garamendi’s part.

    “Garamendi sought her endorsement and didn’t get it, and if he’d gotten it he wouldn’t be doing this,” Tucker said. “Everything that DeSaulnier is using says ‘Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher’ — it’s from before she was sworn in, so it’s all on the up-and-up.”

    Tauscher endorsed DeSaulnier in late March, well before President Barack Obama formally nominated her in early May to serve as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

    I tried to reach Bezis to ask whether he has endorsed, contributed to, or in any way supported any of the CD10 candidates, but my e-mail and voice mail weren’t returned. He is registered to vote as a Democrat and has written several articles for the Democrat-run California Majority Report, but I don’t see that he has made any campaign contributions to Garamendi or any other CD10 candidate.

    UPDATE @ 7:33 A.M. FRIDAY: Bezis wrote back to me overnight, stating he’d endorsed DeSaulnier early on but revoked that endorsement “motivated in part by the campaign literature touting Ellen Tauscher’s backing of his campaign.” He said he has spoken with DeSaulnier, Garamendi, Joan Buchanan, Anthony Woods and Adriel Hampton in recent weeks and believes “all of the candidates (from all political parties) deserve a fair ‘playing field’ — which Tauscher’s illegal endorsement upsets.”

    Tucker’s statement, he said, is “outrageous. Tauscher should not have made an endorsement in any partisan election would coincide with any day of her tenure at the State Department. Tauscher went out of her way to make a ‘pre-endorsement’ of DeSaulnier for a special election that did not yet exist. Tauscher knew that a vacancy would be created and a special election called because of and only because of her State Department appointment. It was obvious that her successor would be elected while she was at the State Department, when she undisputedly could not make an endorsement.”

    Other CD10 tidbits, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, July 16th, 2009
    Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Ellen Tauscher, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

    Local businesses honored by Assembly members

    Chicken and waffles with a good book, food for body (and soul) and mind – these are a few of my favorite things. And local Assembly members singled out purveyors of these delights as businesses from each district around the state were honored this week by the California Small Business Association in Sacramento.

    Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, picked Derrick Johnson of the Home of Chicken and Waffles in Oakland’s Jack London Square as his district’s honoree, praising Johnson’s practice of hiring and training local workers including many at-risk youth.

    Although originally from Oakland, Johnson’s father and uncles opened a small chain of Los Angeles restaurants called Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. In the late 1990s, his cousins invited Johnson – then living in Florida – to invest in the first Roscoe’s restaurant in Oakland; that investment eventually turned into ownership, with Johnson eventually moving, renaming and reopening the Jack London Square eatery.

    “As a small businessman, Derrick Johnson has created an enterprise that is not simply a financial success, but a community achievement as well,” Swanson said. “By hiring local residents, particularly those who often have difficulty finding work, Home of Chicken and Waffles contributes to our economy while creating a better quality of life for many people. I was very pleased to nominate such a deserving business.”

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, honored Michael Barnard, owner of Rakestraw Books, as the 15th District’s winner. Rakestraw hosts a regular program of author appearances and events with local Schools, and has created community partnership events with other local businesses and non-profits; Barnard has served on the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce board and is now president of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association.

    “Through his hard work, Rakestraw Books – ‘The Bookstore in Danville’ – continues to be a community institution,” Buchanan said. “Small businesses make significant contributions to the California economy. They are the heart and soul of our communities, and Rakestraw books is just that,” Buchanan said.

    More local Bay Area honorees, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
    Under: Alberto Torrico, Assembly, General, Jerry Hill, Joan Buchanan, Sandre Swanson | 2 Comments »

    Joan Buchanan enters CD10 race

    So much for an “annointment” — Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, today announced she too is entering the prospective race to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District, should Tauscher be confirmed to the State Department post to which she has been nominated.

    “We cannot be timid or formulaic. If we do what we’ve been doing in government, we will get more of the same. These times require leaders with solid financial skills, a willingness to be bold and the creativity to shape and select the right innovations,” Buchanan wrote in a letter e-mailed to to friends and supporters and posted on her campaign Web site. “Those are the qualities you told me were right for the times last November when you sent me to Sacramento. I am grateful for your support. Now, I have a rare chance to shape our nation’s future in ways we hadn’t anticipated.”

    Buchanan has been eyeing the race since Tauscher’s nomination last month; her formal declaration of candidacy comes one day after that of Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who has shifted his ambitions from the 2010 gubernatorial race to CD-10. Both have thrown their hats into the ring after state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, secured endorsements from Tauscher, Rep. George Miller and most of Contra Costa County’s labor groups.

    UPDATE @ 2:15 P.M. THURSDAY: I just spoke with Buchanan.

    “We actually made the decision the end of last week,” Buchanan said Thursday afternoon. “I’m running for Congress more than I’m running against Mark or against John or against anyone else who jumps into the race … because there are many issues I care deeply about.”

    Foremost among those would be the sorry state of California’s education and health care, she said. “I believe the voters are entitled to a vigorous debate on these issues and the other issues that affect their lives on a daily basis, I look forward to a competitive race.”

    Buchanan said she’s “prepared to put in the time and the effort it takes” to win.

    “I’ve got a great campaign consultant in Mary Hughes – she’s the one who helped Ellen win the district in 1996 and again in 1998,” Buchanan said. “This will be my 17th campaign in 21 years, and I really believe in grassroots efforts … and we’re going to start releasing a list of our supporters over the next few weeks.”

    “I recognize that in many ways I’m the new kid on the block – I’ve only been in state government for less than a year, but I also know what its like to be a parent – I’ve been a single parent of five children since 1992,” she noted. Combine that with her extensive education experience as a school board member, her expertise in business finance and operations and her strong work ethic, and she’s the right person for the job, she contended.

    Read the full text of Buchanan’s letter, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | No Comments »

    Potential CD10 candidates differ on May 19 propositions

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

    Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

    Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

    Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

    California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

    The special election date in the 10th Congressional district to replace outgoing Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has not been set yet. And two of the three people on the stage at last night’s Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee meeting in Martinez have not made a final decision about their candidacies.

    But their positions on the six ballot measures on the May 19 special election ballot could not have been any clearer.

    On the yes side is the man who is definitely running for Congress, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, along with his potential challenger, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

    California Lt. Governor John Garamendi of Walnut Grove opposes them, a view held by a majority of voters according to recent polls.

    Central Committee Chairman Chuck Carpenter gave each legislator time to make a statement to the group and answer a few questions. These appearances before the local party leaders — where a lot of the work on the ground during an election gets done — are part of the courting process that serious candidates undertake when they run for office.

    Garamendi says the propositions will further tie up California’s already knotted budget process while the deficits continue to mount. (Click here to view the voting pamphlet with all the details of the measures.)

    “Where do I stand on the measures? No, no, no, no, no, no,” Garmendi said.

    Of course, it is far easier for Garamendi to say no to the measures. Unlike state legislators Buchanan and DeSaulnier, he did not note vote to put them on the ballot as part of the negotiated budget settlement. A lieutenant governor typically plays little or no role in budget negotiations.

    Buchanan, who came to the meeting to talk about the propositions and not about a congressional race, reluctantly endorsed the measures even though she said it felt like she was “selling her soul to the devil” when she voted to put them on the ballot.

    But Buchanan said the impacts of failing to adopt the budget negotiated between the Democrats, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a handful of Republicans were too dear.

    And she said she will vote for the ballot measures — holding her nose — because the alternative is also too costly. If voters do not pass these measures, the state deficit could double from $8 billion to $16 billion and more draconian cuts will be on the table.

    DeSaulnier was the most positive of the three speakers. He not onnly pointed out the fiscal impacts of failing to pass the measures but talked about a few of the pluses of the legislation, including what he views as added protection for education funding.

    And he also promoted, as a solution to the annual budget stalemate between Democrats and Republicans, an end to the two-thirds voting threshold in the Legislature to a pass a budget or new taxes. There is a bill in process that would place the question before voters in 2010 and proponents are also prepared to seek signatures and place an initiative on the ballot if the Legislature fails to do it.

    Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009
    Under: Congressional District 10, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier | No Comments »

    Garamendi all but enters CD10 race

    Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

    Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi all but declared his candidacy tonight for the congressional seat held by outgoing Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo.

    Garamendi delivered a short but eloquent speech to several dozen members of the Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee in what turned out to be an impromptu candidates forum along with appearances by two of his potential challengers.

    “A lot of you have told me that this congressional district is where I should run, that I have the experience and the background to have an impact in Washington, D.C.,” Garamendi said. “So, we’re considering it. I’d like you to seriously consider it, too.” (Update: 9:45 p.m. After the meeting, a Garamendi aide said the lt. governor had not yet made a final decision.)

    Garamendi, who lives in Walnut Grove, made no mention of his gubernatorial campaign during the roughly 20 minutes he spoke.

    Instead, he focused on federal issues such as the government bailout, his opposition to offshore oil drilling, his support for a single-payer healthcare system and what he called the global climate change crisis.

    “Those changes are happening in Congress,” Garamendi said. “There is tremendous potential for change.”

    Garamendi spoke following short speeches by declared congressional candidate and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, , who said she expects to make a decision in the next week.

    But Garamendi’s presence at the monthly meeting of the county’s Democrats was the chief source of the buzz in the room.

    Many of the county’s top Democrats were already struggling with a difficult choice between DeSaulnier and Buchanan. They have campaigned for both of them and have worked particularly hard for Buchanan, who ran in a nail-biter in November.

    The addition of Garamendi into the mix will certainly spur a lot of debate in the ranks of the Democratic Party.

    UPDATE 7:41 AM: In the editing process last night, I dropped a “you” from the last sentence of Garamendi’s quote. Also, a reader pointed out that Garamendi was referring to the generic “you” and did not mean specifically the people in the audience.

    Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
    Under: Congress, Congressional District 10, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Lt. Governor, Mark DeSaulnier | No Comments »