CA-10: Sworn in and Looking forward to Voting on Health Care Reform

(I meant to promote this yesterday, but still, go get ’em Congressman! – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

On Tuesday, communities across America voted in hundreds of local and state elections. In Northern California’s 10th Congressional District, voters saw fit to send me to Congress. To all my supporters who voted, volunteered, donated, and spread the good word about our campaign, you have my sincere gratitude.

Today I was sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to represent the people of the 10th Congressional District (video here, about 1:35:00 in). It is an honor to serve my constituents and my country at such an important moment in U.S. history.

When we started our campaign for Congress this spring, we knew we would run a forward-thinking campaign with unwavering support for comprehensive health care reform that includes the public option. With a team of hundreds of volunteers and the support of more than 66,000 voters, we won our special election with a double digit lead. I look forward to voting for a House health care bill worthy of support as early as this Saturday – a bill that includes a robust public option, ends the denial of coverage for so-called pre-existing conditions, creates cost-savings, and protects Medicare for our seniors.

More over the flip…

It was a pleasant surprise to browse the stories about Tuesday’s elections and find so many pieces written about my health care position and record. A sample includes:

Keith Olbermann and Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC’s Countdown

Olbermann: “The Democratic candidate is John Garamendi. … He supports the public option, also single payer, he’s Medicare for All from the start, he supports an exit strategy in Afghanistan right now. In the last polling, he was up by 10. Two questions: if he wins by anywhere near ten, is that not a national story? And why hasn’t this race already been a national story if New York 23 has been one?”

O’Donnell: “You have kind of a super overqualified candidate for a first time Congressional race. But yes, he did not just look to the particulars of that district the way Tauscher did, the woman that just left that seat. He went in there and just said, ‘I’m going to run basically as a loyalist of Nancy Pelosi’ who is nearby in San Francisco, but this is suburban, this is different from San Francisco. And so he just went in there and said ‘I’m going to run.’ It reminded me very much of the way Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to run up state, used to run up in the 23rd district. He would go up there as a New York City liberal, be honest about it, and he would get their vote not because of agreement, but because they thought, ‘This guy has the experience and the integrity.’ And that’s how John Garamendi is going to win this.”

Get This Guy a Committee Assignment by Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic

“Most of you know John Garamendi (if you know him at all) as the former California state official who won a special election for Ellen Tauscher’s old seat in Congress. But those of us in the business of health wonkery know him as one of our own. In the early 1990s, he developed the “Garamendi plan” for California, which later became a model for the Clinton health care plan of 1993-94.”

Tale of Two Special Elections: One Shifts Right, The Other Left by John Nichols at The Nation

“An old-school progressive with an activist bent, Garamendi has been portrayed by some as being too liberal for the suburban district. But Garamendi has not pulled his punches; he has based his populist campaign on his enthusiasm for health care reform and promised to fight for a robust public option in any federal reform measure. And the former California insurance commissioner says he wants to go to Washington to take on the big banks and insurers.”

Congress gets another voice on health-care reform by Ezra Klein at The Washington Post

“Garamendi has a long history in health-care reform. In the early ’90s, he was serving as California’s Insurance Commissioner. Working alongside Walter Zelman and, later, Paul Starr, he developed the framework that would later become Clinton’s health-care plan – a triumph of health-care policy, if not politics. … In other words, Pelosi got more than another health-care vote out of Tuesday’s election. She got another health-care wonk.”

Health Care and the Elections by Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress

“The governor of New Jersey doesn’t have a vote on health care or energy or financial regulation or the budget or anything else. The Representative from the 10th District of California does, and so does the Representative from the 23rd District of New York. One can debate the larger meaning of it all as much as one cares to, but the situation is what it is.”

Garamendi puts his brand on politics by Dave Newhouse in The Contra Costa Times

“Meet your new 10th Congressional District representative – Democrat, cowboy, outdoorsman, environmentalist, health care advocate, insurance industry jouster, Peace Corps volunteer, and former UC Berkeley football and wrestling standout. Garamendi, 64, is a man of the land and a man of the people – the two main characteristics of his 35 years of public service.”

Yesterday’s Overwhelming Historic Republican Victory Makes Democratic Health Care Reform Just A Bit Easier by Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo

“That creates some simple arithmetic. Yesterday, Democrats had 256 voting members in the House. By week’s end, they’ll have 258. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could afford to lose no more than 38 Democratic votes on a landmark health care reform bill. Next week, after Owens and Garamendi are sworn in, she can lose up to 40. For legislation this historic and far-reaching, she’ll need every vote she can get–and both seem likely to support reform.”

New congressman John Garamendi joins health care debate by Kitty Felde at 89.3 KPCC

“Garamendi will likely be sworn in on Thursday – just in time to cast his first vote in the House on health care. Democrats need every vote they can get to pass the measure. … Garamendi knows something about both insurance and negotiating with other lawmakers – he served two terms as California’s first elected insurance commissioner and 16 years in the state legislature.”

Congratulations, Congressman Garamendi! by Anthony Wright at Health Access California

“Garamendi, Lt. Governor for one more day until he takes his seat, is a advocate for consumers and a verified health policy wonk, as a former Insurance Commissioner who was very active and influential in the health reform debates in the early 1990s. Last year, he helped us launch the Health Care for America Now campaign in Los Angeles in July 2008, and became then the first elected politician nationally to sign the HCAN Statement of Principles. It is totally appropriate that his first act in Congress will likely to be to vote for the historic health reform package.”

The Impact on Health Care by Steven Benen at Washington Monthly’s Political Animal

“In fact, by winning both of yesterday’s congressional elections, Democrats have not only managed to expand their House majority, they’ve also moved the caucus ever so slightly to the left. Bill Owens is a moderate, but he’s more liberal than the Republican he’s replacing, John McHugh, and he’s endorsed a progressive approach to health care reform. Likewise, Garamendi is more liberal than Tauscher was, and he, too, favors a progressive approach to health care reform. In this environment, every vote counts, and Democrats just picked up two more that are likely to prove helpful.”

California Wins House Seat, Adds Another Vote for Health Care Reform at California Healthline

“During his campaign, Garamendi said he will vote with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on health care reform legislation. He also told supporters that he plans to fly to Washington, D.C., this week for his swearing-in ceremony (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/4). Garamendi said, “I may very well be there this weekend to provide a critical vote on health care. I would be very happy to make that ‘yes’ vote my first vote in Congress” (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/4).”

How the State Elections Could Strengthen Health Care Reform by Max Fisher at The Atlantic Wire

“With Harry Reid predicting that reform is unlikely to receive a final vote until next year, new Democratic Reps Bill Owens and John Garamendi will be present to vote on health care. They may not be the deciding factors on reform, but could their votes help Democrats pass a more ambitious bill?”

2 More Votes For a Public Option In the House by Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left

“That’s two more votes for a public option. That’s the biggest story of the night.”

I’ve seen our side lose too many high stakes health care battles over the years, and with President Obama in the White House supportive of real health care reform, we cannot let this opportunity slip through our fingers.

I’m prepared to do what is necessary to pass health care reform, and I am ecstatic that I am able to enter Congress perhaps only two days before my colleagues and I put into place the most significant improvement in health care delivery since Medicare.

If we succeed, tens of millions of Americans will soon no longer be one broken leg or infection away from bankruptcy or worse. What was once hope for care can become health care, with leadership from President Obama and members of Congress.

It’s a new day in America. I look forward to working with you to solve the many problems we’ve inherited, to progress our nation forward and to make our beloved country and my beloved district and state places where quality health care is available to all. Now let’s get to work.

Congressman John Garamendi represents Northern California’s 10th Congressional District, which includes portions of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. Prior to his election to Congress on November 3rd, 2009, Garamendi served as California’s Lieutenant Governor, where he fought to keep college affordable for students, developed innovative strategies to create green jobs, and kept California’s coastline pristine by preventing oil companies from drilling off California’s coast. With more than three decades of public service experience, Garamendi has been an Insurance Commissioner, Senate Majority Leader, Deputy Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, University of California Regent, California State University Trustee, and Peace Corps volunteer. To learn more, please follow Garamendi on Facebook and Twitter.