CAMPAIGN 2014 | CONGRESS | About a month ago, I received an email from Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog expressing interest in running for Congress. I was admittedly caught flat-footed by the email. Why would Daysog, a Democrat and two-time councilman in Alameda run against Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the most popular representatives in the state? When I met up with Daysog one sunny Alameda morning a few weeks back, this was my first question. “No,” Daysog protested. “I want to run for George Miller’s seat.”
George Miller, of course, is the long-time congressman who had announced his retirement a week earlier. It’s also the same George Miller who represents Contra Costa County’s 11th Congressional District. Daysog, however, lives in the Lee’s 13th Congressional District, but there is no law saying you must reside in the congressional district you seek. It’s just a whole lot more difficult erasing the carpetbagger tag from your candidacy.
Daysog says he’s only launching an exploratory committee through the filing deadline next month. He works in Walnut Creek, which is within the district’s boundaries and professes to have an understanding for its constituent’s unique political tastes. Daysog is a moderate Democrat, which jibes well with the district, and is one of the most accessible local politicians in the East Bay. Daysog holds weekly office hours at the same local coffee shop which I am writing this article and consistently trots out his folding table and chairs for chatting at local farmers’ markets.
A presumed frontrunner in the race to replace Miller, however, has already been anointed. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier jumped into the race just hours after Miller announced his retirement and gained the congressman’s endorsement in short time. Miller’s blessing, it seems, has driven away other prospective candidates and avoided the type of free-for-all that erupted recently in Southern California upon the retirement of Rep. Henry Waxman, who, incidentally was elected in the same class as Miller in 1974.
If Daysog indeed runs in the June primary he has two significant tasks ahead. Not only does he need to explain away the carpetbagger tag, but more importantly, begin to chip away at the sense of inevitability which already surrounds DeSaulnier.
Go ahead and run. Pete Stark never lived in his District, unlike Swalwell who lives in his District and is doing a fabulous job as Congressman.