Garamendi wins 10th District race

November 4, 2009 12:01:15 PM PST
Lt. John Garamendi, D-Calif., was the heavy favorite going into the race for the 10th District Congressional seat vacated by Ellen Tauscher, and as expected, he came out the victor in Tuesday's special election. Garamendi says his election is going to strengthen support for Obama's health care legislation.

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Garamendi is heading to Washington with a decisive win over Repulican businessman David Harmer who has conceded the race. His early lead held up throughout the night, and at 9:30 p.m. he thanked his volunteers for getting him the win.

"You did it. You got the votes out. You really did a job," he said.

Meena Sanghera drove from her home in Bakersfield to be there.

"And that's to tell you how popular John is," said Sanghera. "We're up here all the way supporting him."

"This was crucial to win this, especially for the health care reform debate because he's going to get to vote on it and that bill is going to be hitting the floor in the next couple of days," said Jeffrey Harry who works for the Democratic National Committee in Northern California.

Garamendi told his supporters he is flying back to Washington on Wednesday and will be sworn in as a congressman for the 10th District on Thursday.

"And the first vote, I hope, I want it to be the health care vote," said Garamendi. "We're going to change it."

Garamendi says his win will send a message to Blue Dog Democrats in the House and Senate that it's OK to support the public option.

"I have been absolutely clear where I'm coming from about health care reform," he said. "This is something this nation has to do and a robust public option has been the mantra of my campaign from the very outset."

Earlier in the evening, Harmer thanked his volunteers who worked phone banks right up until the polls closed. From his home in San Ramon, the attorney and candidate told ABC7 he is glad it's over.

"It's good that I didn't know how hard it would be or else I wouldn't have done it. Most days I felt like the door mat for the Budweiser Clydesdales," said Harmer. "On the other hand, it's been an inspiring experience. It's been a real blessing for my family and I hope for the people who've put so much heart and soul into this effort."

Harmer says he is going to take the kids to Disneyland.

Governor Arnold Schwarenegger, R-Calif., now needs to decide who will replace Garamendi as lieutenant governor. There has been a lot of speculation over who he might pick. Three Republicans from Northern California are strong possibilities.

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