Bill Clinton and John Garamendi to Appear at Basque Cultural Center

Former President Bill Clinton and California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi will appear tomorrow Oct. 6 at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco.

The two political leaders will be speaking in the center’s banquet room at 3 p.m. as part of Garamendi’s campaign for Congress.

John Garamendi with then-President Bill Clinton. Garamendi served as deputy interior secretary in the Clinton Administration. Photo from Garmandi website.
John Garamendi with then-President Bill Clinton. Garamendi served as deputy interior secretary in the Clinton Administration. Photo: Garamendi for Congress

Garamendi’s campaign office gave the center about 24 hours notice about the special event. “But we’re going to try and get the word out,” said Basque Cultural Center President Philippe Acheritogaray.

A Democrat, Garamendi is one of the most prominent Basque American politicians in the U.S. and served in the Clinton Administration as a deputy secretary of the interior.

The cultural center is a logical stop for Garamendi’s campaign, Acheritogaray said, noting that the Basque community reached out to Garamendi during the center’s 25th anniversary celebration in February 2007. And in 2008, Garamendi visited the center with former Basque Lehendakari Juan Jose Ibarretxe.

“The lieutenant governor has a connection to the BCC,” Acheritogaray said.

Garamendi, 64, captured 26% of the vote against 13 other contenders in a special congressional election in early September. Since no candidate won a majority of the vote, the top vote getter from each party will face off in an election on November 3. Garamendi is the heavy favorite to win that election, according to political observers, because the district is strongly Democratic.

Garamendi will be running against Republican David Harmer. The sprawling Congressional district stretches from Sacramento County south to Alameda County in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. The seat was previously held by Ellen Tauscher, who resigned to go to the State Department.

On his campaign website, Garamendi touts his 32 years of public service. He also talks about his time in the Peace Corps, working as a volunteer in Ethiopia. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Garamendi played football for the Golden Bears and was a second-team All American as a guard.

Garamendi’s grandparents operated the Ely Hotel in Nevada and the California Hotel in Stockton. Garamendi has hosted big Basque barbecues on his sprawling ranch in Mokelumne Hill in Northern California. The events, where the U.S. and Basque flags have been prominently displayed, are typically attended by hundreds of people who enjoy chorizos, music and performances by Basque folk dancers.

See the invitation on the BCC website.