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April 17, 2009

Major shakeup in race for Tauscher seat

Here’s a surprising development in the race to replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who is leaving the House for a position in the State Department.

State senator Mark DeSaulnier looked to be the odds-on favorite, winning endorsements from Tauscher, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), leading labor groups and much of the party establishment. He was anticipating a primary challenge from state Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, but felt awfully confident of his chances in a recent interview with POLITICO.

But a major name in California politics, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi came close to declaring his candidacy for Tauscher’s seat last night. If he runs, that complicates DeSaulnier’s path to the nomination. Garamendi had been running for governor, and has solid name identification from previous statewide campaigns.

Interesting footnote: In his 2006 race for lieutenant governor, Garamendi defeated two current sitting members of Congress: Rep. Jackie Speier (in the Democratic primary) and Rep. Tom McClintock (in the general election). We’ll see if he’ll try to join them in Washington in the upcoming days.