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Voters to choose new 10th District congressman today, while 4 seek election to 2 seats on San Ramon's City Council

Democrats hope for victory locally as GOP eyes victories in East Coast races

With the national focus on today's gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District, it's the special election in Livermore and the rest of the 10th Congressional District that is attracting attention on the West Coast.

Voters go to the polls today in the 10th District to decide who will succeed former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher: Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, 64 and a Democrat, or his Republican challenger and businessman David Harmer.

Long-time Congresswoman Tauscher resigned the post to become the State Department's undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs.

Also today, voters go to the polls in several cities and school districts in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

San Ramon voters will elect two to the City Council. Councilmen David Hudson and Jim Livingstone are seeking reelection, challenged by newcomers Doug Burr and Jim Brady in today's election.

In Walnut Creek, voters will face the controversial Measure I initiative that would allow a developer to build a downtown store for Neiman Marcus.

Voters also go to the polls in Albany, Emeryville and Newark in municipal elections, and voters in the Acalanes and Walnut Creek school districts are being asked to extend permanently existing parcel taxes.

But it's the 10th Congressional District that, like New York's special congressional contest, is attracting the greatest regional and national attention.

A recent public poll shows Harmer trailing Garamendi by double digits in a district where Democrats make up 47 percent of registered voters compared with 29 percent that are registered as Republicans. The 10th Congressional District includes much of Contra Costa County, as well as parts of Alameda, Solano and Sacramento counties.

Garamendi topped a crowded field in a special primary election in September, but because no one got more than 50 percent of the vote, the general election was scheduled for Nov. 3.

Garamendi has been everything from assemblyman to insurance commissioner to former President Bill Clinton's deputy interior secretary during his 35 years in public service. He is also one of California's better-known politicians with higher-than-usual recognition for a lieutenant governor, especially one who serves with globally-known Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Harmer, on the other hand, is best known for his father, who was a state senator and also lieutenant governor. Nevertheless, Harmer easily defeated the other five Republican opponents, earning him a spot on the ballot.

Since the start of the election season, Harmer has raised about $800,000 to Garamendi's $1 million and released commercials criticizing his Democratic opponent's support for the public option in a health care overhaul.

Jeremy Cloward of the Green Party, Mary C. McIlroy of the Peace and Freedom Party, and Jerry Denham of the American Independent Party combined to only get about 1 percent of the overall vote, but will each also be on today's ballot after running unopposed in the primary.

Garamendi said that his campaign is going "very, very well," and hopes that today's turnout will be favorable to him.

"Our task is to round up the Democrats," Garamendi said.

He said his campaign's polls have shown that voters "want someone that will help Obama and his agenda, and my opponent is a no vote on everything the president is attempting to do."

A Garamendi win today also could have national significance as an exception to the tough elections other Democrats are facing in New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

Harmer said that his main issue with the president and Congress is what he thinks is a lack of fiscal discipline.

"When the President is promoting policies of limited government, a sound dollar, and economic opportunity, he'll have my wholehearted support," Harmer said.

"You cannot spend money you don't have," he said. "What Congress is doing now is irresponsible. Whatever our disagreement is on other issues, at least we can agree that we can't leave this debt for our kids, and that's the theme of our campaign."

The combination of Garamendi's name recognition and the high number of Democrats in the district seem to give Garamendi the advantage in the race, according to Bill Whalen, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

"There are more Democrats than Republicans in the district, ergo he should win," Whalen said.

Harmer's prospects of winning would depend on "a sentiment out there, which you don't see as much in California as in other states, that people might be in a mood to punish politicians, and Garamendi would fit that mold as a career politician," Whalen said.

If Garamendi is to win the seat, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will have to pick a new lieutenant governor, a decision Whalen said will likely be surrounded by speculation.

A possible candidate is Tom Campbell, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010 who is a former South Bay congressman and served as state finance director for Schwarzenegger.

Whalen said that pick "would be a tremendous boost to Campbell's candidacy, if he had a 'Lieutenant Governor' in front of his name, but Arnold might not want to play favorites in the race."

If the governor were to pick a Democrat, Robert Hertzberg, a Los Angeles businessman who is a former state Assembly Speaker and is an advisor to Schwarzenegger, is another possibility, Whalen said.

"He and Schwarzenegger talk all the time, so I can easily see (the governor) picking him," he said.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear declined to comment on possible replacements in the event of a Garamendi victory.

"That's not something the governor is focused on at all," McLear said.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Vote Harmer
a resident of Danville
on Nov 3, 2009 at 7:31 am

Get out and vote for Harmer. Let's send a fiscally responsible representative to DC. 2010 let's continue the momentum and dump Jerry McNerney. Time to drain the swamp!


Like this comment
Posted by bob123
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2009 at 8:28 am

VOTE HARMER--the last thing we need to do is put another career politician in Washington! He must have enough time in state government already for a pension-we don't need to give him a chance to get one at the federal level as well!


Like this comment
Posted by dowhatisright
a resident of Danville
on Nov 3, 2009 at 9:07 am

There is absolutely no checks and balances in our system, at this time and we don't need any more professional liberal politicians in the local, state or federal government. We have seen what government can do left to their own devices. We need to vote our country back. VOTE HARMER.
Our nation is not an OBAMA-NATION, yet, but we need to fight to keep it from becoming one.


Like this comment
Posted by dublinmike
a resident of Dublin
on Nov 3, 2009 at 9:29 am

There is no such thing as "Obama-Nation." This is all hyperbole.

But if you believe this stuff, then here is a suggestion. Watch Limbaugh's body language when he is speaking, especially during an interview. Do you see a parallel? If not, watch the History or Military channel for specials on Adolph Hitler. You'll get it then...


Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Nov 3, 2009 at 9:33 am

Harmer is the best choice. We have enough spending in Washington. Look at CIT. WE bailed them out and now they go Chapter 11! Billions of dollars lost and we are stuck with the bill. There has to be business people in Washington. Harmer knows what it is like to lose your job. He worked for Wahington Mutual.
Vote Harmer Distarict 10.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on May 30, 2017 at 8:07 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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