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John Garamendi

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 10th district
Assumed office 
November 5, 2009
Preceded by Ellen Tauscher

In office
January 8, 2007 – November 5, 2009
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Preceded by Cruz Bustamante
Succeeded by TBD

In office
January 6, 2003 – January 8, 2007
Governor Gray Davis
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Preceded by Harry W. Low
Succeeded by Steve Poizner
In office
January 7, 1991 – January 2, 1995
Governor Pete Wilson
Preceded by new position
Succeeded by Chuck Quackenbush

In office
1995 – 1998
President Bill Clinton

Member of the California State Senate
from the 5th district
In office
1984 – 1991
Preceded by Milton Marks
Succeeded by Patrick Johnston

Member of the California State Senate
from the 13th district
In office
1976 – 1984
Preceded by Clare Berryhill
Succeeded by Al Alquist

Member of the California State Assembly
from the 7th district
In office
1974 – 1976
Preceded by William T. Bagley
Succeeded by Norman S. Waters

Born January 24, 1945 (1945-01-24) (age 64)
Mokelumne Hill, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Patricia W. Garamendi
Residence Walnut Grove, California
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley (B.A.)
Harvard Business School (M.B.A.)

John Raymond Garamendi (born January 24, 1945) is a United States politician who has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since November 2009, representing California's 10th congressional district. A Democrat, Garamendi was the California State Insurance Commissioner from 1991 to 1995, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior from 1995 to 1998, and the California State Insurance Commissioner again from 2003 to 2007. He then served as Lieutenant Governor of California from January 8, 2007 until he was elected to Congress in November 2009.[1]

Garamendi was temporarily a candidate for Governor of California in the 2010 election after announcing his candidacy on July 31, 2008.[2] However, he suspended his candidacy on April 29, 2009, to run for Congress in the 10th congressional district.[3] This seat was vacated by Ellen Tauscher, who resigned to become Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.[4] Garamendi won the Democratic Party nomination in the primary election for the seat on September 1 and then won the special election on November 3, 2009.


Early years

Raised in Mokelumne Hill, California of Basque,[5] Italian and Irish[5] descent, Garamendi received a Bachelor's degree in business from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was both a football player and wrestler, and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia from 1966 to 1968.[6] Garamendi is an Eagle Scout. Garamendi is also a member of Sigma Chi, as a brother of the Alpha Beta Chapter at Berkeley.[7]

Political career

Garamendi won election to the California State Assembly in 1974, representing most of Sacramento County as well as all or part of seven other counties to the east and south, and to the State Senate in 1976. He ran unsuccessfully in the 1982 Democratic gubernatorial primary, where he was defeated by Tom Bradley, and in the 1986 Democratic primary for California State Controller, when he lost to Gray Davis; but in 1990 he was successful in his campaign to become California's first Commissioner of Insurance, an office that brought him much controversy due to the state seizure of Executive Life Insurance Company, a bankruptcy that was coincidental with the creation of the state Department of Insurance.

Instead of seeking re-election to the Insurance Commissioner's office in 1994, Garamendi ran for Governor of California but lost the Democratic primary to State Treasurer Kathleen Brown, who in turn lost the general election by incumbent Republican Governor Pete Wilson.[8]

Shortly thereafter, President Bill Clinton appointed Garamendi to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Interior, the second-highest post in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

After four years in the private sector, Garamendi won election to a second term as Insurance Commissioner. Seven months into his term as Insurance Commissioner, on August 7, 2003, Garamendi announced his candidacy for Governor in the gubernatorial recall election but dropped out two days later in favor of Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.

Halfway through his term as Insurance Commissioner, on July 16, 2004, Garamendi announced his candidacy for the 2006 race to replace the term-limited Bustamante as Lieutenant Governor. Bustamante ran to replace Garamendi as Insurance Commissioner.

Former Vice President Al Gore had endorsed Garamendi for Lt. Governor. Garamendi was also endorsed by the Sierra Club, the California Teachers Association, the California League of Conservation Voters, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the California Professional Firefighters Association, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, to name a few.

In the June 6, 2006, Democratic primary, Garamendi defeated state senators Liz Figueroa and Jackie Speier, receiving 43% of the vote. The margin of votes between Garamendi and Speier was very tight during much of the election night, with each receiving about 40% of the vote, but in later returns Garamendi pulled ahead. In November 2006 he faced Republican Tom McClintock and several candidates from smaller political parties in the general election. California elects governors and lieutenant governors separately; state treasurer Phil Angelides was the Democratic nominee for Governor, but Garamendi could not, in any formal sense, be called Angelides' running mate. Garamendi was elected Lieutenant Governor with 49% of the vote to 45% for Tom McClintock.

Despite living outside of Congressional District 10, Garamendi announced his intention to run for the open congressional seat vacated by Ellen Tauscher on April 22, 2009. There was some confusion about the location of Garamendi's residence, as he told both the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle that a portion of his property was, in fact, in the district. "My front yard is in the district, our bedroom is not" – SF Chronicle April, 2009. Garamendi continued to fuel speculation about the location of his residence when he made similar comments to the NYT in July, stating, "My front yard is in the district, my bedroom is not” (NYT, July 2009). The Sacramento Board of Elections later confirmed that no portion of Garamendi’s property lies within Congressional District 10.

Garamendi won with with 52% of the vote (a 10% lead over the next candidate)[9] . (His predecessor. Tauscher, had won more than 3/4 of the vote in 2002,[10] and nearly 2/3 of the vote in 2004 [11], 2006 [12], and 2008 [13], following favorable redistricting)

After winning the special election on November 3, Garamendi was sworn in as a member of the US House of Representatives on November 5, 2009.[14]


Congressional committee assignments

Source: H.Res. 921

Electoral history

Public Offices
Office Type Location Elected Term began Term ended
State Assemblyman Legislature Sacramento 1974 December 7, 1974 December 2, 1976
State Senator Legislature Sacramento 1976 December 2, 1976 December 8, 1980
State Senator Legislature Sacramento 1980 December 8, 1980 December 3, 1984
State Senator Legislature Sacramento 1984 December 3, 1984 December 5, 1988
State Senator Legislature Sacramento 1988 December 5, 1988 December 3, 1990
Insurance Commissioner Executive Sacramento 1990 January 7, 1991 January 2, 1995
Insurance Commissioner Executive Sacramento 2002 January 6, 2003 January 8, 2007
Lieutenant Governor Executive Sacramento 2006 January 8, 2007 November 5, 2009
U.S. Representative Legislative Washington, D.C. 2009 November 5, 2009
California State Legislature service
Session Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1975–1976 Assembly Democratic Jerry Brown 7
1977–1978 Senate Democratic Jerry Brown 13
1979–1980 Senate Democratic Jerry Brown 13
1981–1982 Senate Democratic Jerry Brown 13
1983–1984 Senate Democratic George Deukmejian 5
1985–1986 Senate Democratic George Deukmejian 5
1987–1988 Senate Democratic George Deukmejian 5
1989–1990 Senate Democratic George Deukmejian 5
California Insurance Commissioner general election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Garamendi 3,770,717 52.2
Republican Wes Bannister 2,736,577 37.9
Libertarian Ted Brown 431,317 6.0
Peace and Freedom Tom Condit 281,276 3.9
Total votes 7,220,508  %
Majority 1,034,140 14.3
Democratic win (new constituency)
California Insurance Commissioner general election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Garamendi 3,346,937 46.5
Republican Gary Mendoza 2,998,243 41.6
Green David Ishmael Sheidlower 277,667 3.9
Libertarian Dale F. Ogden 236,688 3.3
Natural Law Raul Calderon 192,001 2.7
American Independent Steven A. Klein 148,893 2.1
Total votes 7,200,429  %
Majority 348,694 4.9
Democratic hold Swing
California Lieutenant Governor primary election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Garamendi 1,045,097 42.5
Democratic Jackie Speier 975,530 39.7
Democratic Liz Figueroa 436,849 17.8
Total votes 2,457,476  %
Majority 69,567 2.8
California Lieutenant Governor general election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic John Garamendi 4,189,584 49.1
Republican Tom McClintock 3,845,858 45.1
Green Donna J. Warren 239,107 2.8
Libertarian Lynnete Shaw 142,851 1.7
American Independent Jim King 68,446 0.8
Peace and Freedom Tom Condit 43,319 0.5
Total votes 8,529,165  %
Majority 343,726 4.0
Democratic hold Swing


Garamendi is married and has six children. [15]


External links

California Assembly
Preceded by
William T. Bagley
California State Assembly
7th district
1975 – 1977
Succeeded by
Norman S. Waters
California Senate
Preceded by
Clare Berryhill
California State Senator
13th and 5th districts
1977 – 1991
Succeeded by
Patrick Johnston
Political offices
Preceded by
California Insurance Commissioner
1991 – 1995
Succeeded by
Chuck Quackenbush
Preceded by
Harry W. Low
California Insurance Commissioner
2003 – 2007
Succeeded by
Steve Poizner
Preceded by
Cruz Bustamante
Lieutenant Governor of California
Succeeded by
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ellen Tauscher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 10th congressional district

November 5, 2009 – present


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