Rep. John Garamendi briefly considered vying for the seat vacated by the surprise retirement of Rep. George Miller before deciding to stay put.
“I’m not going to let people down,” said Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, on Tuesday night. “People are counting on me, whether it’s on a water issue or agriculture or the university or the two Air (Force) bases.
“I’ve got work to do, and I’ve got to get the job done.”
Miller, D-Martinez, announced Monday that he would not seek re-election after 40 years in the House. He represents the majority of Contra Costa County in District 11, as redrawn by the Citizens Redistricting Committee.
For two terms, Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, represented District 10. Until 2012, it stretched from Fairfield, through much of Contra Costa and southern Alameda County.
Rather than square off against Miller in the new-look 11th in 2012, Garamendi ran and won in District 3. Under redistricting, the third includes Yolo County, minus West Sacramento, and all or parts of Solano, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Glenn, Lake and Sacramento counties.
A statement released by a Garamendi spokesman earlier on Tuesday appeared to leave open the possibility of the congressman heading back to the East Bay. “It’s very early in the process and a lot needs to be considered,” the statement read in part.
Garamendi acknowledged that he gave switching a thought after receiving calls from former constituents:
“They called me right after (Miller’s announcement) and said, ‘We need you back.’ So we looked at it. But I don’t want to let people down in this district. I received a couple of calls just now about water issues, people saying, ‘John, don’t go. We need you here.’ ”
Garamendi’s lone challenger for re-election is Assemblyman and former Yuba County supervisor Dan Logue, R-Chico, who said that Garamendi was “district shopping” because he was “rattled” by Logue’s campaign.
“We’re getting support throughout the district,” Logue said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m talking about fixing healthcare, and he was a big proponent of Obamacare. I think he wants to go to an area that fits his philosophy a little more than the district he’s running in right now.”
Logue said that Garamendi considered switching districts proof “he really doesn’t have a passion for representing the district.”
Garamendi said the third is “not an easy district, but it’s really an incredible district,” before waxing poetic about the Sacramento River, UC Davis, Travis and Beale Air Force bases. “It’s probably the most valuable agricultural district in the nation,” he added.
Garamendi won the seat in 2012 by defeating Republican Kim Vann, a Colusa County supervisor, with 54.2 percent of the vote.
Democrats make up 41.2 percent of third-district voters and Republicans 31.8 percent, while 21.9 percent decline to state a party preference.
By comparison, District 11 is 50 percent Democratic. Republicans make up 24.6 percent of voters, while 21.2 percent are decline-to-state voters. The liberal Miller won his last re-election bid with 69.7 percent of the vote.
Another reason Garamendi may have considered the move? He raised five times more money in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose than in the Sacramento metropolitan area during the last election cycle.
Had he gone west, he would have faced State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, whom Garamendi once defeated in a primary. Walnut Creek’s mayor, Kristina Lawson, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she is consider running, too.
Before going to Washington, Garamendi, 68, served in the State Assembly and State Senate (four terms) and as state insurance commissioner (two terms) and lieutenant governor. He also spent time as U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior during the Clinton administration.
Garamendi has changed tacks mid-race before.
In 2009, in the midst of running for governor, he suspended that campaign and instead pursued the District 10 seat vacated by Ellen Tauscher. He won despite being accused of being labeled a “carpetbagger” because he did not live in the district.