Garamendi Likely Headed to Congress
By Ben Pershing
California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D) is likely headed to Congress this fall after trumping a crowded field Tuesday in the race to fill a vacant Bay Area House seat.
Because no candidate got 50 percent of the vote Tuesday, the top finisher from each party will advance to a Nov. 3 contest. Given the strong Democratic tilt of the seat, Garamendi is the heavy favorite to defeat Republican David Harmer in that race.
Garamendi, 64, entered the special election campaign with a clear advantage in name identification, currently serving as lieutenant governor and previously as state insurance commissioner. That familiarity and a strong fundraising network helped Garamendi defeat other prominent Democrats, including state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, state Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Anthony Woods, an openly gay African-American Iraq war veteran whose campaign drew media attention.
DeSaulnier -- who criticized Garamendi relentlessly for living just outside the district -- came in second among Democrats, with 17 percent of the vote, while the Republican Harmer took 21 percent.
All of the major Democrats ran on liberal platforms. Garamendi advertised his support for "universal health care" and said he would "fight for a robust public option."
Assuming Garamendi wins in November, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would appoint a replacement lieutenant governor, though his pick would have to be approved by the state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats.
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