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California - 10th District

Incumbent -- John Garamendi (D) ; Running for re-election

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key

Updated Nov. 6, 2009

Garamendi - a Democrat who has been in public office for more than 30 years, most recently as lieutenant governor of California - won the 10th District seat near San Francisco in a November 2009 special election. He won easily to succeed seven-term Democrat Ellen O. Tauscher, who had resigned to take a high-ranking State Department post, though his 53 percent to 43 percent win over Republican businessman David Harmer was a bit sub-par in a district that usually is a Democratic Party stronghold.

Not everyone was thrilled when Garamendi pulled out of an expected 2010 bid for governor and entered the 10th District special election. Garamendi lives right on the border of the 10th and 3rd districts, and some Democrats argued he should instead have run for the latter seat, which Republican Rep. Dan Lungren is defending after his close race against a little-known Democratic challenger in 2008. Also perturbed were other Democrats who ran for the vacated seat, and the charge of "carpetbagger" was lobbed at Garamendi during the special election primary campaign.

Garamendi easily prevailed in the primary, though, and his Nov. 3 victory was never in doubt. But he fell short of the 65 percent that district voters in 2008 gave both Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee and Tauscher as she won House re-election.

Now that he is in, Garamendi should hold on to the seat for as long as he likes. The big unknown is whether, at the age of 64, he will cap his career with a long House tenure or whether he yearns for one last big statewide run.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Travel through the Caldecott Tunnel across the Alameda-Contra Costa county line or on Interstate 680 during rush hour and you will likely be surrounded by 10th District residents commuting to and from San Francisco or San Jose. Separated from the rest of the Bay Area by the hills east of Oakland, the 10th's residents are mainly well-educated, wealthy professionals who work outside the district.

Residents here are a mix of an older generation that moved in from Oakland and newer, younger commuters who identify more with San Francisco or Berkeley. Almost two-thirds of residents live in the 10th's portion of Contra Costa County, including Antioch and most of Concord (shared with the 7th). Housing market concerns and job losses have affected the East Bay. The district's Solano County portion, which includes Fairfield, is a growing but still largely agricultural area where commuters may head south to the Bay Area or northeast to Sacramento. Travis Air Force Base also provides a significant source of jobs in the county.

The 10th is home to two Energy Department defense program laboratories that form the hub of the district's high-tech sector. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of the country's leading centers of experimental physics research and defense analysis, and the California branch of the Sandia National Laboratory provides engineering support and systems integration for nuclear weapons.

The 10th has a relatively moderate political character -- residents tend to be more fiscally conservative but share their Bay Area neighbors' views on the environment and other quality-of-life issues. The combination of the working-class agricultural sector and more moderate, but still largely liberal, suburbanites helps tilt the 10th Democratic. Barack Obama won 65 percent of the district's 2008 presidential vote.

Major Industry

Research, health care, agriculture, service

military bases

Travis Air Force Base, 7,393 military, 3,692 civilian (2011)


Fairfield (pt.), 104,969; Antioch (pt.), 102,309; Livermore, 80,968


The world's oldest-known working light bulb, first installed in 1901, is housed by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.




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