The field to replace Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District keeps getting bigger and bigger. Newly announced Democratic candidate Anthony Woods entered the race yesterday and he offers an attention-getting story. Woods is an Iraqi war veteran, bronze star winner, West Point Grad and he’s out of the army because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Woods is gay and disclosed that to army brass so he was sent packing. Read more about Woods’ story in Shane Goldmacher’s Capitol Alert report.

Just a week of so ago John Garamendi pulled out of the Governor’s race to focus on the CD-10, thinking he’d have an easy ride to congress. It appears others don’t see Garamendi as a sure thing and are willing to challenge him for the seat.

Garamendi chose a taxpayer-funded facility to do an “official” visit prior to his very political entry into the CD-10 race. Garamendi is “in” with his one major endorser – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299.

Garamendi’s announcement ignited the political fire in Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, who announced her candidacy on the Internet a day after Garamendi. Joan said that, “opportunity knocks quite unexpectedly.” (No kidding!)

Buchanan, whose race for the 15th Assembly District is near and dear to my heart as someone who ran in the Republican primary last time, joins former journalist Adriel Hampton, another Democrat who entered this week claiming to have hired the best consultants for his run. Hampton calls himself “the most progressive Democrat”. Now add Anthony Woods to the Democratic side of the ledger.

Weeks earlier, the Democrat Party’s anointed one – State Senator Mark DeSaulnier – a young entrepreneurial, savvy and hungry state senator – had secured all the major in-district endorsements within a week of word leaking of Tauscher’s new appointment in the Obama Administration.

He received support from Congresswoman Tauscher, neighboring Congressman George Miller, Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, and the Contra Costa Labor Council. He would have had the job sewn up had it not been for Garamendi’s maneuver last Tuesday, which opened the door for others to jump in.

Some say DeSaulnier is an opportunist for leaving his new state senate seat to run in the 10th Congressional District. But Desaulnier has a lot of support in this district – he has served as a county supervisor, in the state assembly, and now in the state senate. While he’s never had a “real” race since he switched parties, there is no doubt that people like Mark. “He’s a great drinking buddy whether he’s a Pete Wilson Republican – or a Gray Davis Democrat,” one friend remarked to me – “and he’s been both!”

Two Republicans who have filed committees – Catherine Moy and Chris Bunch – would face terribly long odds in this 19-point Democrat district, compared to the candidates like Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf or former S.F. 49er Brent Jones. David Harmer (son of John Harmer, the Lt. Governor under Ronald Reagan), Buddy Burke, and others are still taking a look as well, but they are not well known.

The stakes are high as the chess game unfolds. We could end up with a new Lt. Governor (appointed by Schwarzenegger), a new state senator, and a new state assembly member. We’ll definitely have a new Member of Congress.

My early prediction is that Buchanan won’t run in the 15th Assembly District again – opening up a great opportunity for the Republican Party and my friend Abram Wilson – respected Mayor of San Ramon – who I believe will make the run again.

I’ll be following it quite closely as a district resident and someone who has the opportunity to vote in what could be a cascade of two or three special elections in my own backyard in 2009.