The race to replace Democratic congresswoman Ellen Tauscher pits well-seasoned political veterans against several candidates relatively new to California politics.
"I don't think you would hire somebody for a tough job that had no experience," says Lt. Governor John Garamendi, who of the five Democrats, has the longest political resume, including as deputy secretary of the interior in the Clinton administration and eight years as California insurance commissioner.
"I understand what's happening to all of us in our present insurance system. Lose your job, lose your insurance," says Garamendi. "If you have a pre-existing condition you're out of luck in today's market. The public option solves that problem."
Democratic state senator Mark Desaulnier has taken issue with the fact that Garamendi lives on the outside of the District 10 border in the Sacramento suburb of Walnut Grove.
"My more experienced opponent, Lt. Governor Garamendi, does not live in the district, cannot vote in the district," says Desaulnier.
"It's not where your bed is, it's where your head and heart is," says Garamendi.
Other Garamendi opponents want to turn his long political service against him, including 29-year-old Anthony Woods, a West Point and Harvard educated Iraq war veteran running for political office for the first time.
"If we keep on sending career politicians to Washington D.C. or to Sacramento for that matter, we're going to keep on getting the same results that we're really frustrated with," says Woods. "And I've experienced these challenges firsthand, from growing up without healthcare, to struggling to get a good education, to fighting in a war I disagreed with."
Woods served two tours in Iraq.
"The key is recognizing that the military is not going to solve all of our problems overseas," he says. "Our problems are just as much economic as they are diplomatic."
Desaulnier believes U.S. involvement in Iraq is a large contributor to the economic crisis at home.
"It's over a trillion dollar expenditure, so when people talk about the deficit, we have to consider what we paid on Iraq in both fiscal costs and human costs and how we fix that," says Desaulnier.
"I really believe that long-term we have to make education a national priority," says another Democrat, former school board member and businesswoman Joan Buchanan.
Buchanan launched her effort to replace Tauscher less than a year after taking a seat in the state Assembly. She believes education, the economy and healthcare are all interconnected.
"I think that doing nothing is not an option. We have 47 million Americans who don't have insurance," she says. "This is truly a national crisis. It's affecting small businesses, it's affecting large businesses and their ability to compete globally. We have to do something."
"Instead of giving our children an inheritance of liberty and opportunity, we're giving them a burden of debt," says San Ramon Republican David Harmer. Harmer is an attorney whose father, John Harmer, served in the state senate and as lieutenant governor under Ronald Reagan.
"The principle issue in the campaign right now is the explosion of federal spending and what it's doing to our national debt," says Harmer. "It's hurting our economy; it promises to hurt our children for generations to come."
Harmer does not favor big government bailouts of banks or carmakers.
"If GM is bankrupt, having the American taxpayer bail them out doesn't change the fact," he says.
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on September 1, the top Democratic and Republican vote-getters will join candidates from other parties for the general election that is set for November 3.
Watch raw interviews with the candidates Laura Anthony spoke with for this report here. Plus, we offered the other candidates an opportunity to make a 5-minute video statement.
>> WATCH ALL THE CANDIDATES HERE
NOTE: There are 14 candidates in this race. Four of the candidates declined our offer to make a video statement.
CANDIDATE WEB SITES:
- Joan Buchanan
- Chris Bunch
- Gary Clift
- Jeremy Cloward
- Jerry Denham
- Mark Desaulnier
- John Garamendi
- David Harmer
- Adriel Hampton
- Mark Loos
- Mary McIlroy
- David Peterson
- John Toth
- Anthony Woods
The League of Women Voters has posted a Special Election Forum with the 10th Congressional District candidates. Watch the District 10 candidate forum here.