Garamendi won an easy 55-to-41 percent victory over Republican candidate David Harmer. A majority of independents voted for Harmer, but they were not enough to overcome the 18-point registration advantage that Democrats hold over Republicans in the district.
Harmer, a conservative lawyer from San Ramon making his first bid for elective office, won most of the southeastern portion of the district, which sprawls from Dixon in the north, Walnut Grove in the east, Livermore in the south and El Cerrito in the west. A majority of Oakley and Knightsen residents voted for Harmer. Garamendi won just about everywhere else, including Antioch and Pittsburg.
Garamendi will be a reliable vote for the Democratic agenda in the House of Representatives. He supports government-run health care, the proposed cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and wants to pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. On a more local level, he opposes construction of a peripheral canal in the Delta.
“I’m very excited about winning this election so we can finally solve these problems,” he said in his opening remarks at the Oct. 26 forum. “This is a good time for America because we finally have a president who wants to get things done in the right way.”
Garamendi expanded on that in his closing remarks: “We are in an extremely important time in America’s history. We are faced with problems that are very difficult and complex. I’ve had the good fortune of working on every problem that will be before Congress. I will support a public option (for health care). Social Security is the foundation for the retired people in America.
“I support financial regulation for the financial industry. Education is fundamental to the economy. Our educational system is failing. Medicare is extremely important. There is an opportunity for me to apply the skills and knowledge I have gained these many years. I’m excited about the prospect of being there.”
During the campaign, Harmer sounded conservative themes of limiting the size of government, lowering taxes, reducing federal spending and regulations on business and opposing the bailout of financial institutions. He criticized Garamendi as a tax-raising liberal who will join Assembly Speaker Nancy Pelosi in expanding the government.
The minor party candidates were a non-factor in the race. Green Party candidate Jeremy Cloward did the best, receiving 1.9 percent of the vote, followed by Mary McIlroy of the Peace and Freedom Party with 1.2 percent and Jerry Denham of the American Independent Party with nearly 1 percent.
Garamendi will serve out the remaining year of the term of former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who resigned in June to take a job in the U.S. State Department.