California: Voters to Pick Tauscher Replacement Today

Posted November 2, 2009 at 6:35pm

Today’s special election in Northern California hasn’t garnered nearly the same attention as its counterpart in upstate New York. But Republican David Harmer is seeking to pull off an upset in the 10th district that, if successful, could trump even the drama that has unfolded in the New York race.

Harmer’s supporters are touting a poll released last week that showed Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D), the heavy favorite to succeed former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D), ahead of Harmer 50 percent to 40 percent. And in a statement over the weekend, the campaign said it is “waging a widespread and comprehensive get-out-the-vote effort among our Republican base— and is “poised for an historic upset that will rock Washington D.C. to its very core.—

The reality, however, is that Harmer would have to overcome major institutional disadvantages to come from behind to defeat Garamendi, a well-known entity in California politics.

Democrats have a voter registration edge of 47 percent to 28 percent in the district along the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Almost as significantly, Harmer hasn’t had the funds to run much of an air war: He just went up with his first TV ad this past weekend, days before the election. Harmer’s fundraising report through Oct. 14 indicated he had receipts that were competitive with Garamendi. He raised a total of $498,000 compared with $942,000 for the Democrat. But nearly half of what Harmer spent in that period went to mail services, with nothing for advertisements.

Garamendi is expected to ride his strong name recognition and the Democrats’ registration advantage to a comfortable victory. But the campaign is not taking the race for granted, recognizing low turnout from Democrats could make the race closer than expected. The Garamendi campaign launched a phone banking operation Friday and engaged in other weekend volunteer canvassing in the lead-up to today’s election. And he has enlisted big-name Democrats such as former President Bill Clinton and, more recently, former Vice President Al Gore, to rally the party faithful.

Fiorina Expected to Launch Bid This Week

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R) is expected to formally launch her long-awaited campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) sometime this week — she has public appearances scheduled Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, though the campaign is not disclosing at what event, specifically, she will make her announcement.

Her main rival for the GOP nomination, state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, is hoping for a big announcement of his own this week. The DeVore campaign is hyping a conference call slated for Tuesday night hosted by the Senate Conservative Fund political action committee and featuring the PAC’s chairman, Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), and Erick Erickson, editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com. A release touting the conference call, which is being held to discuss the state of play in the 2010 Senate races, promises that “Senator DeMint will announce at least one major SCF endorsement at the end of the call.— The DeVore campaign is leaving the strong impression that it could be him.

DeMint has waded into at least one other contested GOP Senate primary this year by backing former Florida state Speaker Marco Rubio in his contest with Gov. Charlie Crist, the establishment favorite.

Likewise in California, Fiorina is considered the desired nominee by party insiders in California and Washington, D.C.

Fiorina is being feted at a Capitol Hill-area fundraiser next month headlined by a list of notable Senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Among the others listed as hosts of the Nov. 17 event at Bistro Bis are Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom Fiorina served as a top surrogate in the 2008 presidential race, and GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.), a leading conservative in the chamber and an ally of DeMint’s.