CA-10 Special Election Preview
by CA Pol Junkie
For 99.77% of the country, September 1st is just another day. For those of us in California's 10th CD, it's special! Special, as in special election. Our congresswoman Ellen Tauscher was confirmed by the Senate as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and moved to the State Department on June 27th. That triggered a special election to fill this seat in the inland East Bay of Northern California.
Special elections are candy for politicians. They can run for a promotion without risking their current seat. If they are smart, they can also target their campaign toward the relatively small part of the electorate who actually show up to vote for these things. The map of California's 10th is a Rohrschach Test of a district ably gerrymandered to ensure a Democrat wins. Eventually, we'll have a Democratic representative again, but we have some electing to do first.
The current election is the primary. All the candidates of all parties are on the same ballot. If one candidate gets 50%, they can head straight for Congress. Otherwise there will be a general election between the top vote getter in each party. Survey USA has polled the race:
Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi (D) 25%
David Harmer (R) 20%
State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D) 16%
State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D) 12%
Anthony Woods (D) 9%
assorted Republican also-rans (R) 10% combined
Garamendi was running for governor (and trailing badly) when the opening in the 10th CD came up. He is apparently willing to take a job 3,000 miles away as long as he doesn't have to be Arnold's understudy anymore so he changed "governor" to "congress" on his campaign website. He has held many elected offices and also served in the Interior Department under President Clinton. He has the endorsement of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. If he were elected, Arnold would appoint a replacement LG who would serve out the remaining 16 months of his term.
Mark DeSaulnier has been endorsed by now former Representative Ellen Tauscher. If he were elected to Congress, there would be special elections (primary and general) to choose his replacement in a safely Democratic district. If another elected official (like Joan Buchanan) took his State Senate seat, there would be yet more cascading special elections. Joan Buchanan was just elected to the State Assembly last year, switching a red district blue. Now, she obviously realizes how much it stinks to be in the California legislature so she's willing to pass the district back to a Republican to get out of there. Anthony Woods is a 29-year old Iraq War veteran who is very bright and accomplished and has many fans in the netroots.
So what's going to happen? The smart money is on Garamendi and Harmer making the general election, which will be a blow-out for Garamendi. Of course, we can be certain that millions of dollars will be spent by the State and the candidates in the process.