Private fund-raising letters sent out by Patti Garamendi, wife of state Sen. John Garamendi, the Democratic nominee for insurance commissioner, indicate that the legislator will resign from the Senate this week, allowing his wife to run for his seat in a special election in November.
Although neither John nor Patti Garamendi would confirm that plan Monday, the letter speaks of a fund-raising event in Stockton on Wednesday night as being the Patti Garamendi "campaign kickoff." The fund-raising solicitation was sent out over the signatures of five senators, including John Garamendi.
Sources conversant with the situation said they believe that Garamendi will on Wednesday officially express his intent to resign, making the resignation effective Saturday, one day after the close of the regular legislative session.
Garamendi's resignation on that date would effectively leave Gov. George Deukmejian with no choice but to call the special election on the same day as the general election. This would put pressure on Patti Garamendi's most potent likely opponent, Assemblyman Patrick Johnston (D-Stockton), who would be forced to run for the Assembly and the Senate on the same ballot.
Johnston said Monday he intends to be a candidate for the Senate whenever the seat opens.
John Garamendi, the favorite in the race for insurance commissioner, has explained that campaigning hard for commissioner may not be consistent with fulfilling his duties as senator. But his resignation at this time is believed to fortify his wife's chances.
Garamendi's Republican opponent, Huntington Beach insurance agent Wes Bannister, said Monday he believes that Garamendi is overconfident about the commissioner's race and will end up losing it.
Bannister also reported that while John Garamendi has said he will accept no insurance industry contributions in his campaign for commissioner, Patti Garamendi has solicited the attendance of a leading insurance industry lobbyist at her fund-raiser.
However, Patti Garamendi said the solicitation to an official of the Assn. of California Insurance Companies was a computer oversight and that she will not take any insurance industry contributions in her Senate campaign. Any contributions inadvertently received will be returned, she said.
John Garamendi, 45, has served in the Senate 16 years.