Open congressional seats are rare so when Tauscher was appointed as Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, it was viewed by politicians as a way to make a difference nationally and to secure a long-term job. Although Congressional terms are only two years, elected representatives are usually fairly secure after a few terms unless the opposing party pulls out all the stops to unseat them or the district boundaries are redrawn.
Two local Democratic state officials - Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (Alamo) and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (Concord) - are in the running. Buchanan was elected last November to serve her first term in the state Assembly. DeSaulnier has already served his allotment of terms in the Assembly and was elected senator in November 2008. Since California adopted term limits for its legislators, politicians can no longer specialize in running the state: To apply their knowledge and talents for any length of time they need to seek either national or local posts. The other Democrat already in an elected position is Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a resident of Walnut Grove who was considering a run for governor until the 10th Congressional seat was vacated. Other Democrats running are Adriel Hampton, an investigator from Dublin, and Anthony Woods, a resident of Fairfield who served two tours of duty in Iraq as an Army captain until he was honorably discharged when he decided to no longer remain silent under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" regulation.
Republicans running are small business owner independent businessman David Harmer of San Ramon; small business owner Mark Loos of Livermore; accountability system owner David Peterson of Walnut Creek; physician John Toth of Concord; Chris Bunch of Fairfield; and retired peace officer Gary W. Clift of Vacaville. Other candidates are insurance agent Jerry Denham, a Walnut Creek resident; of the American Independent party; college instructor Jeremy Cloward of Pleasant Hill, of the Green party; and El Cerrito resident Mary C. McIlroy of the Peace and Freedom party.
The special election Sept. 1 is an "open" primary with all 14 candidates on one ballot. If one candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote, he or she will be elected. Otherwise the top voter getters from all parties will run against each other in the election Nov. 3. It should prove to be an interesting election.