Five for ten

10th Congressional District special election will determine representative for nuke lab and Sacramento River Delta

According to Democrat John Garamendi’s campaign Web site, this is the 10th Congressional District candidate “envisioning the future.” Crystal ball not included.

According to Democrat John Garamendi’s campaign Web site, this is the 10th Congressional District candidate “envisioning the future.” Crystal ball not included.

Photo courtesy of

There’s just a sliver of Sacramento County in the 10th Congressional District. According to the secretary of state’s office, just 1,618 of the district’s 367,208 registered voters live here. Most of those voters live in Solano and Contra Costa counties—think Walnut Creek, Fairfield, Antioch.

But within that tiny sliver of Sacramento County—think Isleton, Walnut Grove—lies the heart of the Sacramento River Delta, perhaps one of the most important pieces of real estate in California and the location for the controversial peripheral canal. Throw in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in southern Contra Costa County, and that’s enough to warrant a rundown on the November 3 special election that will replace U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who resigned earlier this year to become undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs.

There are just five candidates running to replace Ellen Tauscher as the 10th U.S. Congressional District Representative. Barely two months ago, there were 15, but the September 1 primary whittled that down considerably. Here are the five candidates left standing, in alphabetical order:

Jeremy Cloward (Green)

Vocation: instructor, Diablo Valley College

Contributions received by press time (according to the Center for Responsive Politics): n/a

Favorite TV show as a child: Popeye

Cloward is a political science professor, with a doctorate from Claremont Graduate University and author of Private Military Firms and the United States War With Iraq, a scathing look at the privatization of war that’s currently on sale at for just $75.11. It’s thus not surprising that when asked what to do about the war in Afghanistan, he replied with an essay outlining the corruption and absurdity of the conflict. “[T]he wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue with no clear end in sight with a price tag now estimated at some $3 trillion; a number that is equal to our entire federal budget for fiscal year 2008,” he wrote near the end. “We propose to eliminate funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which will end the wars in each country.” Cloward also opposes the proposed peripheral canal that would draw water from the Sacramento River and wants to bring single-payer universal health care back to his constituents. “I think Congress is moving in the wrong direction on health-care reform,” he said. “Instead, Congress is shaping a program that does not threaten the major concerns of the health-care industry, which is primarily to make money off of people who are in relatively good physical condition and exclude those that actually need health insurance.”

Jerome “Jerry” Denham (American Independent)

Vocation: insurance agent

Contributions received by press time: n/a

Favorite TV show as a child: “We did not have a TV in our home. My favorite radio program was The Lone Ranger.”

The 10th Congressional District includes Contra Costa and Solano counties and the southern tip of Sacramento County.

Born in 1936, Denham is running as the candidate of the political party made famous by segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace back in 1968. “I hope to reduce the power and influence of the national government in the lives of the people of the 10th District to such an extent that we would find Washington, D.C. severely reduced in function, population, and importance, and Sacramento increased accordingly,” he e-mailed SN&R. He refused to say whether he supported the peripheral canal—except that he opposes federal government intervention in the issue—but wants Congress to debate a declaration of war against Afghanistan and strongly opposes the current congressional attempts to reform health care: “We the people have never granted the national government the power to legislate in that aspect of lives dealing with our health,” Denham said. “The guilty members of Congress should be impeached and removed from office.”

John Garamendi (Democrat)

Vocation: lieutenant governor

Contributions received by press time: $517,368

Favorite TV show as a child: “We did not have television until I was in high school … [and then it was] football games.”

Garamendi has, at one time or the other, been the state’s insurance commissioner, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, a member of the state Assembly and Senate, and Peace Corps volunteer. He has experience, big Democratic donors (The Grupe Company, Klingbeil Capital Management and the National Education Association, among others) and a current lead in the polls. He’s run a pretty effective, if dull, campaign. This isn’t surprising, considering that the Democratic Party enjoys an 18 percent registration advantage over the Republicans in the 10th. Garamendi strongly opposes the peripheral canal, saying, “I don’t think it’s a necessary ingredient in solving the California water problem.” He wants the United States to focus more on the “economic and social needs” of Afghanistan, rather than simply bombing it. And he wants congressional health-care reform legislation to offer a public option.

David Harmer (Republican)

Vocation: corporate attorney

Contributions received by press time: $424,729

Favorite TV show as a child: Refused to state

Alone among the five candidates running for the 10th District seat, Harmer chose not to answer SN&R’s questions. But it’s not like he’s a complete mystery. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and a juris doctorate from Brigham Young University. Until early this year, when new owner JPMorgan Chase dissolved his office, he was first vice president and assistant general counsel at Providian’s credit card division. He’s a friend of private health insurance (the $4,800 he’s taken from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, testifies to that). As far as the war in Afghanistan is concerned, his views aren’t clear. The Oakland Tribune reports that he “seeks [a] clearer declaration of U.S. goals for troops in Afghanistan” and “favors a comprehensive evaluation of all overseas U.S. military bases,” but those statements are so vague they could mean anything—or nothing.

Mary C. McIlroy (Peace and Freedom)

Vocation: student, City College of San Francisco

Contributions received by press time: n/a

Favorite TV show as a child: The Addams Family

McIlroy is a peace activist and child of Vietnam War protesters. She’s worked in an independent bookstore and hosted, for 25 years, the monthly Irish Freedom Show, which is now broadcast on KPOO in San Francisco. She opposes the peripheral canal, saying that “We need to take a different approach when it comes to the problems of water for the growing population of the state.” She supports an “immediate withdrawal of all troops, military advisers and equipment from Afghanistan as well as Iraq and Pakistan.” Her views on health care are equally lefty: “I support medical for all, or a publicly funded single-payer plan for health care,” she says, adding that the current health-care bills moving through Congress “fall far short of meaningful changes, but are designed to keep the medical insurance companies in business. … As a socialist, I realize that what any one person can do as an elected representative is extremely limited. So the thing I can do is raise the concerns of the working class of District 10 in the halls of Congress.”