About John Garamendi: American politician (1945-) | Biography, Facts, Career, Life
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John Garamendi
American politician

John Garamendi

John Garamendi
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American politician
Is Politician Businessperson Cattle rancher
From United States of America
Field Business Politics
Gender male
Birth 24 January 1945, Camp Blanding, USA
Age 77 years
Star sign Aquarius
Politics Democratic Party
University of California, Berkeley Bachelor of Arts (-1966)
Harvard Business School Master of Business Administration (-1970)
Harvard University
Haas School of Business
The details (from wikipedia)


John Raymond Garamendi (/ˌɡærəˈmɛndi/; born January 24, 1945) is an American businessman, politician, and member of the Democratic Party who has represented areas of Northern California between San Francisco and Sacramento, including the cities of Fairfield and Suisun City, in the United States House of Representatives since November 2009. Garamendi was previously the California Insurance Commissioner from 1991 to 1995 and 2003 to 2007, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior from 1995 to 1998, and the 46th Lieutenant Governor of California from 2007 until his election to Congress.

Garamendi was born in Camp Blanding, Florida and raised in Mokelumne Hill, California. He earned a B.A. in business from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, then served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia from 1966 to 1968. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1974, serving a single term before being elected in 1976 to the California State Senate, where he served for four terms until 1990. During this time he had a spell as Majority Leader and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nominations for Governor of California in 1982 and for California State Controller in 1986.

In 1990, he became the first elected California Insurance Commissioner, serving from 1991 to 1995. Previously, Insurance Commissioners had been appointed by the Governor. Rather than seek re-election, he ran for governor in the 1994 election, losing in the Democratic primary. He left public office and served as President Bill Clinton's Deputy Secretary of the Interior from 1995 to 1998, then worked for the Peace Corps again. He was elected insurance commissioner again in 2002 and briefly ran for governor again in the 2003 recall, before dropping out to support Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. In 2006, he was elected lieutenant governor to succeed the term-limited Bustamante.

Garamendi had planned to run for governor for a fourth time in 2010, but after Democratic U.S. Representative Ellen Tauscher of California's 10th congressional district resigned to become Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Garamendi won a November 2009 special election to succeed her. He was re-elected in 2010 and, after redistricting, for the California's 3rd congressional district in 2012 and 2014.

Early life and education

Garamendi was born in Camp Blanding, Florida, and was raised in Mokelumne Hill, California, the son of Mary Jane (née McSorley) and Raymond V. Garamendi. His paternal grandparents were Basque immigrants from Spain and his mother was of half Irish and half Italian ancestry. Garamendi received a Bachelor of Arts in business from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was both a football player and wrestler, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School. He served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia from 1966 to 1968. Garamendi is an Eagle Scout. Garamendi is also a member of Sigma Chi, as a brother of the Alpha Beta Chapter at Berkeley.

California legislature (1977–1991)

State Assembly

In 1974, Garamendi decided to run for California's 7th State Assembly district. Six-term Republican incumbent William T. Bagley did not stand for re-election, instead running for California State Controller and losing in the general election to Democratic State Assemblyman Kenneth Cory. In the election to succeed Bagley, Garamendi faced Republican State Assemblyman Douglas F. Carter. Carter had won a special election in the 12th Assembly district in July 1973 to succeed Republican Robert T. Monagan, who had resigned to become United States Assistant Secretary of Transportation. In the general election, Garamendi defeated Carter in a landslide, by 60,380 votes (64.08%) to 33,842 (35.92%) as the Democrats won a supermajority in the California State Assembly for the first time since the 1800s.

State Senate

In 1976, he decided to retire after one term to run in California's 13th State Senate district. He defeated Republican Bob Whitten 53%-47%. He won re-election in 1980 (60%), 1984 (69%), and 1988 (69%).

While in the California Senate, he served as Majority Leader. His sponsored legislation reformed health care, welfare, and the state tax code. He also protected Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake. He was Chairman of the Joint Committee on Science and Technology, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, and the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.

1982 gubernatorial election

He ran for Governor of California for the first time in 1982. In the Democratic primary, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley defeated him 61%-25%.

1986 Controller election

In the 1986 Democratic primary for California State Controller, Garamendi lost to Assemblyman Gray Davis, 50%-38%.

Insurance commissioner (1991–1995)

Garamendi as California Insurance Commissioner

1990 election

He ran for California Insurance Commissioner for the first time in 1990. He won the Democratic primary with a plurality of 36% of the vote. His closest challenger was radio talk show host Bill Press, who got 28% of the vote. In the general election, he defeated Republican Wes Bannister 52%-38%.


In 1991, while serving as the newly instituted California Insurance Commissioner, Garamendi seized Executive Life, a failing life insurance company, and resold it to French investors who turned out to be fronts for a government-owned French bank. They made billions of dollars selling off the company's portfolio of junk bonds while the Californians with Executive Life policies were very negatively affected. This situation erupted into a scandal in both the U.S. and France, with the U.S. government filing criminal charges, because it was illegal for a government-owned bank to own a U.S. insurer. Policyholders blamed Garamendi for putting them in this position.

Eventually the U.S. government reached a settlement with the French bankers, and in 2005 Garamendi too agreed to a settlement, the terms of which further angered Executive Life policyholders, who, according to the Sacramento Bee, "had been damaged to the tune of perhaps $5 billion." A leader of the policyholders' interest group, Sue Watson, said, "We are shocked and outraged that the largest financial fraud in California history would be settled for so little and without even a fight." The Bee editorialized that "Garamendi cannot simultaneously assert that the sale was a good deal and a multibillion-dollar fraud, and then defend a cents-on-the-dollar settlement that left the buyers with billions of dollars in windfall profits. It just does not make sense."

1994 gubernatorial election

Garamendi ran for California governor a second time in 1994. In the Democratic primary, State Treasurer Kathleen Brown defeated him 48%-33%.


After his tenure as insurance commissioner, 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. He resigned in 1998 and led groups of Peace Corps volunteers that helped negotiate peace in the Eritrean–Ethiopian War and Congo Civil War from 1998 to 2000. He then spent time in the private sector.

Insurance commissioner (2003–2007)

2002 election

He ran for California insurance commissioner for a second time in 2002. He won the Democratic primary with 39% of the vote. In the general election, he defeated Republican Gary Mendoza 46%-42%.


He created a Home Owners Bill of Rights. This helped create laws that reduced workers compensation costs 58% and reduced premiums by over $500 million. He re-established an anti-fraud task force. He also developed a report analyzing California's health care system with 43 recommended improvements.

2003 gubernatorial election

On August 7, 2003 Garamendi announced his candidacy for governor a third time in the gubernatorial recall election, but dropped out two days later to endorse Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.

Lieutenant governor (2007–2009)

2006 election

On July 16, 2004, Garamendi announced his candidacy to run for Lieutenant Governor of California, the first and only time he would run for this position. Incumbent Cruz Bustamante was term-limited and decided to run to replace Garamendi as insurance commissioner. Garamendi's endorsers included former Vice President Al Gore, 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 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and former U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Garamendi won the Democratic primary by defeating state senators Jackie Speier and Liz Figueroa 43%-40%-18%. In the general election, he defeated Republican State Senator Tom McClintock 49%-45%.


As Lieutenant Governor of California, Garamendi was the de jure President of the State Senate, regent of the University California, Trustee of the California State University System, member of the California State Lands Commission, Chairman of the California Commission for Economic Development, and acting governor.

U.S. House of Representatives (2009–present)



Despite living outside of California's 10th congressional district, Garamendi announced his intention to run for the 2009 special election in the 10th district, where Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher had vacated her seat. There was some confusion about the location of Garamendi's residence. Garamendi said: "My front yard is in the district, our bedroom is not." Garamendi continued to fuel speculation about the location of his residence when he made similar comments to The New York Times in July, stating the same thing. The Sacramento Board of Elections later confirmed that no portion of Garamendi's property lies within Congressional District 10.

In the September election, no candidate reached the 50% threshold to avoid a run-off election. Garamendi ranked first among Democrats with 26% of the vote, defeating State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (18%) and Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (12%). In the November run-off special election, Garamendi defeated Republican nominee David Harmer 53%-43%. 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.


Garamendi won re-election to his first full term defeating Republican nominee Gary Clift 59%-38%.


After redistricting, Garamendi filed papers in March 2012 to run in the newly redrawn California's 3rd congressional district.

The old 10th Congressional District represented by Garamendi made up just 23% of the new 3rd district. While the old 10th Congressional District traditionally favored Democrats, the new 3rd District is now considered swing district by some. Garamendi defeated Republican Kim Vann 54.2%-45.8%.


Garamendi was re-elected.

Political issues

President Trump

Garamendi has been critical President Donald Trump, suggesting in December 2016, that because of his international real-estate business, Trump is weighed down with conflicts of interest. He also said he was disturbed by the placement of "generals, ex-generals in every one of the key positions dealing with the military, dealing with international affairs."

At a July 2017 town hall in Davis, California, Garamendi said that current developments in the Trump administration were "far more serious" than Watergate. "This is developing far more rapidly than any of us expected," he said. "Is there a cover-up? An obstruction of justice? Well, we'll see. There's certainly some indication that it has already happened." He stated that there was "absolutely no doubt that that theft of private information, which is a federal offense, a felony, was then weaponized to influence the outcome of the election."

Foreign policy

In July 2017, Garamendi said that during recent visits to Vietnam, South Korea, and Australia, he had encountered "angst, worry and concern about what's happening in America." He said that these and other countries count on America for security and certainty, but "they don't see that in America today." He added: "The Trump issues are really about the stability of this world in a profoundly dangerous time."

Garamendi said in January 2018 that he was "angry" when President Trump referred to certain Third World nations as "s---hole countries," "It was very demeaning," said Garamendi. "He lowered the standard of the presidency. That statement did great harm to America. We'll be paying for that for a long time." He later added that Trump was "ignorant of what's going on in Africa" and said that the President had "made some racist statements."

Government spending

In a January 2018 interview, Garamendi said of the U.S. treasury: "There's no money. They gave it all away." He complained that current economic policies benefited the rich and corporations, not the middle class.


Commenting in January 2018 on illegal immigration, he expressed the desire to "make sure every person is identified" and charged that E-Verify, a system intended to curtail undocumented employment, had "not really been enforced." He said that it was possible to come up with some compromise on the issue between conservative and progressive House members, and expressed concern about the fate of "undocumented immigrants who are not considered Dreamers."

Internet privacy

After Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook's April 2018 testimony before a joint Senate committee, Garamendi said, "The privacy of the entire world is in his hands." Garamendi called for a privacy law that would cover social media.


In May 2011, by a vote of 60-1, the House Armed Services Committee approved a $553 billion military-funding bill that would increase pay and fund new aircraft, ships, and submarines. The sole "no" vote was cast by Garamendi. In the same month, Garamendi introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would withdraw 90 percent of troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013. Along with eight other members of Congress he wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to end the war.

With Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Garamendi sponsored the Due Process Guarantee Act, a 2012 bill pushed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that would bar the military from indefinitely detaining U.S. citizens or residents within the country without charge or trial.

John Garmendi actively opposed a GOP-backed construction of a missile defense site on the East Coast, saying it was fiscally irresponsible to be "spending up to $5 billion in the next three years on a missile defense system that doesn't work."

He voted against extending the Patriot Act.

National security

In a May 2011 article, Garamendi stated that "our national security is much more dependent on ending desperate poverty, funding good schools, and empowering women in the developing world while eradicating international terrorist networks like al Qaeda. With bin Laden dead and al Qaeda in Afghanistan largely extinguished, it's time we revisited the wisdom of continuing the war in Afghanistan."

In April 2018, he expressed opposition to building a border wall and said, "If you want to go where the problem is, fund the Coast Guard."

Student loans

In the fall of 2017, Garamendi and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) co-introduced H.R. 4001, the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculating Act. "For many Americans, the price of a college education is too high," he said.


Garamendi voted on November 19, 2015, for HR 4038, legislation that would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq to the United States.

On March 31, 2018, he described Trump's approach to Syria as "helter-skelter" and "chaos." "There is no policy in the Middle East," he said.

He expressed opposition in April 2018 to a military strike on Syria. "You have to have a strategy. This president doesn't have a clue about how to build a strategy."


In January 2018, he called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 a "tax scam" that would primarily benefit the so-called "1 percent." He asserted that House "deficit hawks" wanted to "cut out the social safety net" to pay for tax bill.

Water supply

In a June 2017 article, John Garamendi rejected the proposal known as California WaterFix, calling it an "expensive boondoggle," and instead expressed support for Proposition 1, which he said would "create new water for the entire state."

Committee assignments[63]

  • Committee on Armed Services
    • Subcommittee on Readiness (Chair)
    • Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
  • Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
    • Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
    • Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
    • Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
    • Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

Caucus memberships[64]

  • House Democratic Caucus
  • American Sikh Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Air Force Caucus
  • Alzheimer's Task Force
  • Military Families Caucus
  • Peace Corps Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Shipbuilding Caucus
  • Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition
  • United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus
  • Veterinary Medicine Caucus
  • Wine Caucus

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 3, 2009
U.S. Representative Legislative Washington, D.C. 2009 November 3, 2009 January 3, 2011
U.S. Representative Legislative Washington, D.C. 2010 January 3, 2011 Present
California State Legislature service
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
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 seat)
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
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
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
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
Turnout   29.39
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
Turnout   35.33
Democratic hold
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi (incumbent) 137,578 58.9
Republican Gary Clift 88,512 37.8
Green Jeremy Cloward 7,716 3.3
Total votes 233,806 100.0
Democratic hold
California's 3rd Congressional District Primary election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi (incumbent) 59,546 51.5
Republican Kim Vann 30,254 26.2
Republican Rick Tubbs 17,902 15.5
Republican Tony Carlos 5,541 4.8
Republican Eugene Ray 2,438 2.1
Total votes 115,681 100.0
Voter turnout %
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi (incumbent) 126,882 54.2
Republican Kim Vann 107,086 45.8
Total votes 233,968 100.0
Democratic hold
Congressional 3rd Congressional District election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi (incumbent) 79,224 52.7
Republican Dan Logue 71,036 47.3
Total votes 150,260 100.0
Voter turnout %
Democratic hold
California 3rd Congressional District primary election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi (incumbent) 98,430 63.1
Republican Eugene Cleek 37,843 24.3
Republican Ryan Detert 19,699 12.6
Total votes 155,972 100.0
Voter turnout %
California 3rd Congressional District general election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Garamendi (incumbent) 152,513 59.4%
Republican Eugene Cleek 104,453 40.6
Total votes 256,966 100.0
Voter turnout %
Democratic hold

Personal life

Garamendi is married to Patricia Wilkinson, who has worked as agriculture specialist for the California Exposition and State Fair and as deputy secretary of California's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. In 1993, she was appointed by President Clinton to serve as associate director of the Peace Corps and in 1998 as deputy administrator in the Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service. They live in Walnut Grove and have six children and thirteen grandchildren.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 14 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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