Garamendi is one of 14 candidates running in a September 1 special election to replace Ellen Tauscher as the U.S. representative in the 10th congressional district. Here's a round-up of the candidates in this red hot race.
President Clinton's letter, printed with a Courier-esque font that looks like it was just rolled out of an old-fashioned typewriter, extolls Garamendi as a "proven environmental leader and first-rate public servant." Gore, Mr. Nobel Prize-winning Inconvenient Truth, also praises Garamendi's environmental record: "As a life-long rancher ... John served at the U.S. Department of the Interior helping to protect our nation's natural heritage. He worked shoulder to shoulder with President Clinton and me to design programs to protect and preserve our National Parks for generations to come."
Both laud Garamendi's advocacy as state Insurance Commissioner on behalf of consumers, and for his overall experience in government at the local, state, and national level.
The San Francisco Chronicle has also endorsed Garamendi, saying he stands out in the crowd of contenders"because his vast portfolio of experience is so well aligned with the issues of the times and the big concerns of the district." (Here is Garamendi with his wife, Patti; both were long-time volunteers with the Peace Corps.)
"The 64-year-old Garamendi has the confidence and depth of knowledge that would allow him to hit the ground running in Congress --and his history sggests he would be unabashed in doing so," the Chronicle says.
If you want to do the horse race thing, these sorts of endorsements are probably helping to give Garamendi a double-digit lead in recent polls, according to the Contra Costa Times Lisa Vorderbrueggen. Whether you're happy about that or not--personally, I haven't decided whom I'll vote for--Garamendi is also leading the pack in fundraising, Vorderbrueggen says. He has raised $517,368 since he launched his campaign and $216,655 in the last reporting period between July 1 and Aug. 12."
State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord, Garamendi's chief rival and the candidate who seemed to be the early frontrunner for the seat, has been unable to keep up with Garamendi, fundraising-wise. "He has raised $378,028 during the election cycle and $168,249 in the most recent reporting period. His lag behind Garamendi may reflect the two recent polls that show Garamendi with a double-digit lead," Vorderbrueggen says.
I wonder how much DeSaulnier's campaign was hurt by the U.S. State Department, Ellen Tauscher's new employer, asking DeSaulnier to stop advertising her early endorsement in his campaign materials.
DeSaulnier is fighting back, with a new mailer that explains why Garamendi would not choose to run in District 3--where "he actually lives"--because it would pit him against Republican Dan Lungren in a Republican leaning district, Vorderbrueggen writes in her blog on Friday.
Back to that Chronicle endorsement of Garamendi: It also offers a favorable assessment of the other candidates, including DeSaulnier, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, and the leading Republican in the race, San Ramon attorney David Harmer.
Notably, the Chronicle agreed with my prediction of which politician to keep an eye on for the future. That would be Democrat Anthony Woods, the 29-year-old Iraq war vet with degrees from West Point and Harvard. Actually, he's the "gay Iraq war vet," who defied the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell " policy. He also is the son of a single mother who pulled himself up by those proverbial bootstraps. Bottom line: He's got the great made-for-movies biography. The Chronicle editorial board was impressed with the "depth and energy" he displayed in his interview. "He has a bright future in politics, if he stays with it. He should."