Contra Costa Times also endorses Garamendi; raises concerns about DeSaulnier’s support of "unsustainable" pension increases to public safety workers

Lt. Governor John Garamendi–already receiving endorsements from the San Francisco Chronicle, and from former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore–just received a thumbs up from the Contra Costa Times in his bid to replace Ellen Tauscher as U.S. representative for the 10th congressional district.

Garamendi, a Democrat whose Walnut Grove residency has become a point of contention in this race, nonetheless received the Times‘ support because of his “experience working in Washington, D.C., as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior in the Clinton administration.” Garamendi, who, according to the Times, lives on “the edge of the district,” also “has broad experience in state government with two years in the Assembly and 14 years in the state Senate. He twice was elected as California Insurance Commissioner, where he helped make significant consumer reforms.”

As for Garamendi’s closest rival, state Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), the Times agrees that he has served a long time in public office, including on the Concord City Council and on the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.

Actually, it’s his stint as a supervisor that worries the Times: “Many of the financial problems that afflict Contra Costa County today stem directly from decisions DeSaulnier championed while he was supervisor. Most notably, in 2002, at a time when the county faced a $31.5 million shortfall, was already laying off workers and was already experiencing increased public employee pension costs, DeSaulnier supported unsustainable pension increases that hiked benefits for public safety workers by as much as 50 percent. The plan allowed public safety workers to retire at age 50 with a pension worth 3 percent of their salary for each year served.”

Read the full endorsement here. The open primary election takes place September 1. All 14 candidates–including five Democrats and six Republicans–will appear on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation. The top vote-getter in each party, plus the nonpartisan candidates, will advance to the general election unless one candidate receives in the primary 50 percent plus one vote. If that occurs, the candidate will win the post outright.

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