A prominent Contra Costa County Democrat has decided not to run to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher if she's confirmed to a high-ranking State Department post, instead throwing his support to a peer.

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, said Thursday he will continue his 2010 campaign to be state Superintendent of Public Instruction, and will support state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, to succeed Tauscher, D-Alamo, in the 10th Congressional District.

Tauscher has served the East Bay well in the House since her 1996 election, and DeSaulnier "is the best person to continue her tradition of strong and effective leadership in Congress," Torlakson said. "He has the experience, intelligence and character necessary to represent the residents of the district. I am pleased to endorse him and offer my full support for his upcoming campaign."

DeSaulnier said Thursday he feels "really good" about this endorsement from "a dear friend," and has discussed his possible candidacy with Tauscher.

"When she's ready for me to say I'm going in, I'll make that announcement," he said, adding that in the meantime he's starting to gather support, funding and a campaign team.

DeSaulnier, who'll turn 57 this month, was elected in November to represent the 7th State Senate District, essentially swapping seats with the term-limited Torlakson. Before that, he had served two years in the Assembly; 13 years as a Contra Costa County supervisor; and two years on Concord City Council.


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Democrats lead Republicans by 18 percentage points in voter registration in Tauscher's district, which includes much of central and eastern Contra Costa County as well as small slices of Alameda, Solano and Sacramento counties; a well-recognized Democrat without much opposition from within the party holds a significant advantage.

Other Democrats mulling a run for the seat include Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg. Possible Republican candidates include 2008 GOP nominee Nicholas Gerber of Moraga; California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and several others who've chosen not to make their names public yet.

Reach Josh Richman at 510-208-6428 or jrichman@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read the Political Blotter at www.ibabuzz.com/politics