Garamendi Tops Dem Primary, Favored To Succeed Tauscher In Congress : It's All Politics California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi topped the field in Tuesday's special congressional election and looks like he will succeed Ellen Tauscher, who resigned to take a job with the State Department.
NPR logo Garamendi Tops Dem Primary, Favored To Succeed Tauscher In Congress

Garamendi Tops Dem Primary, Favored To Succeed Tauscher In Congress

Garamendi made the smart move of bypassing a prospective gov candidacy to run for Congress. hide caption

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It looks like California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi will be coming to Congress.

A dropout in the 2010 race for governor, Garamendi topped the field of candidates in yesterday's special primary in California's 10th District to succeed former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D), who left the House earlier this year to take a job in the Obama State Department.

State law mandates that all candidates run on the same ballot in a special election, with the top Democrat facing the top Republican in a runoff. With the 10th CD seen as a comfortable Democratic bastion -- President Obama took about 65 percent of the district's vote last year -- all eyes were on the Democratic field.

With all votes counted, Garamendi took 26 percent of the vote. The top Republican was attorney David Harmer, who received 21 percent. Harmer's father John was lieutenant governor for a brief time in the 1970s.

The rest of the field consisted mostly of Democrats. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, endorsed by Tauscher and an assortment of liberal groups, finished third with 18 percent. State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, who spent a lot of her own money on the campaign and was backed by EMILY's List, was fourth with 12 percent. Iraq War vet Anthony Woods, an African-American who is openly gay, took 8 percent.

Tauscher first won the seat, which is situated in the suburbs east of San Francisco, in 1996 with a narrow victory over GOP incumbent Bill Baker. But she has won comfortably ever since, including a 65 percent win last year.

Garamendi was a relatively latecomer to the campaign, having focused on the race to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger until he realized he was getting no traction. He doesn't live in the district, which was one of the issues his opponents tried to use against him.

The runoff will be held on election day, Nov. 3. If Garamendi wins, Schwarzenegger would appoint a new LG -- as Gov. Ronald Reagan did in 1974 when he named John Harmer to succeed Ed Reinecke, who resigned. Whoever he picks would have to be approved by the Dem-controlled state legislature.