Tauscher Officially Tapped for State Department Post

Posted May 5, 2009 at 5:00pm

Updated: 6:35 p.m.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) has officially been tapped for the State Department post she has been publicly expecting for the past seven weeks.

The White House announced Tuesday afternoon it is nominating the seven-term lawmaker to become undersecretary of State for arms control and international security.

Tauscher first acknowledged that she planned to accept the nomination on March 18, releasing a statement to her constituents that confirmed news reports of the move.

“Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, making sure other countries do not obtain them and, one day, I hope, ridding the world of these terrible weapons, has become my passion and, I hope, my life’s work,— she said in the statement, noting that she would stay in her elected post in the meantime, since the confirmation process “is fraught with uncertainty and can take weeks.—

Tauscher has been a leader of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of pro-business moderates she helped shape into a force in recent years. She is set to be replaced in the coalition by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), currently the group’s whip. He decided to seek the coalition’s top job shortly after the Tauscher news broke and moved swiftly to lock up support among its leadership.

Meanwhile the expected special election race for Tauscher’s 10th district East Bay seat is already well under way. In fact, one of the leading contenders in the race, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D), is in the middle of a three-day fundraising visit to Washington, D.C. DeSaulnier has been endorsed by Tauscher and Democratic Reps. George Miller and Dennis Cardoza, who represent nearby Congressional districts. On Tuesday, Miller and Cardoza were among the co-hosts of a Capitol Hill fundraiser to benefit his campaign.

DeSaulnier had been considered the frontrunner in the race until just less than two weeks ago, when California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D) threw his hat into the ring. On Monday, Garamendi released a poll that showed him in the lead in the yet-to-be-scheduled special election.

State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan is also running, rounding out the top tier of announced Democratic contenders. Candidates from all parties will appear together on one ballot during the first round of special-election balloting. If no candidate exceeds 50 percent of the vote, the top vote-getters from each party advance to a special general election two months later. The district is considered reliably Democratic territory and Republicans are not expected to contest the race.