California's 10th congressional district special election, 2009

California's 10th congressional district special election, 2009
November 3, 2009 (2009-11-03)

Nominee John Garamendi David Harmer
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 72,817 59,017
Percentage 52.9% 42.8%

Representative before election

Ellen Tauscher

Elected Representative

John Garamendi

California's 10th congressional district special election, 2009 was held on November 3, 2009, to fill the vacancy caused in California's 10th congressional district by the resignation of Ellen Tauscher. Democratic Party candidate John Garamendi won against Republican opponent David Harmer.

Background and procedures for election

On May 5, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Democratic Representative Ellen Tauscher for the position of Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.[1] She was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 26 and subsequently resigned from her congressional seat.[2]

Following her resignation, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special election. An open primary among candidates of all political parties took place on September 1, 2009; if one candidate had won a majority of the votes, he or she would have won the seat with no further action. As that didn't occur, the general election took place on November 3, 2009 between the candidates with the most votes for each party.


The following individuals appeared in the certified list of candidates and the certified list of write-in candidates published by the Secretary of State of California, and were thus eligible to receive votes in the special primary election.[3][4]

American Independent



Peace and Freedom



General election

Poll source Date John Garamendi David Harmer Other
Survey USA October 26–28, 2009 50% 40% 6%



Since no candidate won a majority in the September 1, 2009, open primary, the candidates with the top votes for each party advanced to the special general election. Garamendi won more votes than any other Democrat and Harmer more than any Republican. Denham, Cloward, and McIlroy were the only candidates from their parties so they advanced the general election by default.

California's 10th congressional district special primary, 2009[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi 27,580 25.70
Republican David Harmer 22,582 21.05
Democratic Mark DeSaulnier 18,888 17.60
Democratic Joan Buchanan 12,896 12.02
Democratic Anthony Woods 9,388 8.75
Republican Chris Bunch 4,871 4.54
Republican Gary Clift 4,158 3.88
Republican John Toth 3,340 3.11
Republican David Peterson 1,671 1.56
Green Jeremy Cloward 552 0.51
Republican Mark Loos 418 0.39
Democratic Adriel Hampton 376 0.35
American Independent Jerome Denham 309 0.29
Peace and Freedom Mary McIlroy 272 0.25
Democratic Tiffany Attwood (write-in) 2 0.00
Total votes 107,303 100.00
Voter turnout 29.39%


California's 10th congressional district special election, 2009[7]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi 72,817 52.85
Republican David Harmer 59,017 42.83
Green Jeremy Cloward 2,515 1.83
Peace and Freedom Mary McIlroy 1,846 1.34
American Independent Jerome Denham 1,591 1.15
Total votes 137,786 100.00
Voter turnout 35.33%
Democratic hold


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