The Most Important Vote I Have Ever Cast

I have had one of those weeks that you remember for the rest of your life. On Tuesday, I won a congressional election. On Thursday, I was sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and got to cast the first vote of my congressional career: a resolution honoring female veterans and military personnel. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to cast the most important vote of my 34 years in public service.

The health care reform bill that cleared the House yesterday, if approved by the Senate, will transform this country's health care delivery system. Denial of treatment for pre-existing conditions will be a thing of the past. None of us will have to worry that if we fail to report the chicken pox, we'll be denied treatment from our insurers for cancer. Out-of-pocket expenses will be capped and subsidies and tax breaks will be made available to consumers and small businesses. This combined with the reduction in administrative overhead costs, the savings associated with an emphasis on preventative medicine, and other measures will provide us as individual consumers and as a nation with substantial long term cost savings. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform bill will cut the deficit by over $30 billion over the next decade and will continue to create a surplus over the next 20 years.

Yesterday's plan also includes a public option that, while not as expansive I would have liked, is still very worthy of support. And as most of you are well aware, we had an unfortunate setback for women's health in yesterday's voting. But on the whole, this is change we can believe in.

When I was California's Insurance Commissioner, my staff fielded thousands of calls from California residents who fell victim to the insurance industry shenanigans. When large fires hit San Diego, Oakland, and elsewhere, hundreds of consumers were victimized a second time by their insurance companies. My capable staff was successful at coming to a consumer-friendly resolution for almost all cases, but at times, I had to personally ring up high ranking industry executives to use all forms of persuasion available to my office to make sure my constituents were treated fairly.

When one's business model depends on collecting monthly payments from people in the hope that you'll never have to provide them with the services they are paying you for, it's disappointing but not shocking that the insurance industry looks for loopholes to maximize its profits.

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

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 converge for so-called pre-existing conditions, creates cost-savings, and protects Medicare for our seniors.

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CA-10: Taking Nothing for Granted

I have a request to our friends in the netroots: remind anyone you know who lives in the 10th Congressional District, a Northern California district that includes portions of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties, to vote on Tuesday, November 3rd.

In the last 5 days of this campaign, our aggressive phone banking and door knocking campaign will ramp up, but we need more volunteers this weekend and on Election Day. Please check out our Get Out the Vote page to see how you can help. Also, please consider devoting a few hours to remote phone banking.

Our conservative Republican opponent's Tea Party base is hungry for an upset.

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CA-10: President Obama: "Everybody has got to go out there and work for John"

I've had many incredible experiences during my 34 years in public service, but never have I been blessed to receive the support of two presidents in just over a week - until now. On Thursday, at a Bay Area event, I received President Barack Obama's support for the November 3rd 10th Congressional District special election. This followed our great endorsement rally with President Bill Clinton last week.

At President Obama's San Francisco event last night, the President introduced Garamendi, saying: "Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, who is running for the California 10 [in the] upcoming election - everybody has got to go out there and work for John."

The President went on to say "The reason you're here tonight, the reason I'm here tonight is because we know that our work isn't done. We still have enormous challenges in this country. There are far too many people out there who are really going through a tough time - out of work, seeing their hours trimmed, their wages cut. Americans who are subject to the whims of health insurance companies or who can't afford quality health insurance in the first place. Too many Americans who are seeing the American Dream slip further and further and further out of reach. ... Now is the time to secure our future."

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CA-10: Yesterday's Victory and Tomorrow's Challenges

What a night! As you may have seen, last night I was the highest vote-getter in the 10th Congressional District special primary election and will now face Republican David Harmer in the November 3rd general election.

I want to thank our incredible team of hard working volunteers. They spent countless hours knocking on doors, making phone calls, and making their presence known at community events throughout the district. Our success would not have been possible without them, and they have my deepest gratitude. Because of their efforts, we won all four counties in the district.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge my competitors in this election:

To David Harmer: Congratulations on your victory among Republicans. I look forward to two months of dialogue focused on the issues and solutions that matter to the people of the 10th Congressional District. I intend to make it clear that a radical right wing agenda that seeks to stop health care reform, starve the education of our children, fails to finance the transportation and infrastructure systems we need, and advocates more tax breaks for the most wealthy is not in the interests of the people of the 10th Congressional District, California, or America.

To Senator Mark DeSaulnier: Your health care town halls helped establish an important dialogue in the campaign about the need for comprehensive health care reform. You are an institution in Contra Costa County, and you have many admirers. You deserve special acknowledgement for your work seeking a constitutional convention. The two-thirds majority requirement has worsened California's problems and I look forward to working with you to bring a working democracy and majority rule back to California.

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