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CD10: NRCC support for Harmer remains modest

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 at 12:17 pm in 2009 CD10 special election, Congressional District 10.

David Harmer

David Harmer

Despite election countdown fervor from pro-GOP David Harmer forces, the National Republican Congressional Committee does not yet view him as a “contender” in his bid against Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi in the 10th congressional district special election on Tuesday.

A Roll Call story today reports that the committee elevated nine candidates in its Young Guns program — its targeted candidate initiative — from “On the Radar” to “Contender.”Harmer was not among the nine selected for the second tier. No candidate has yet achieved the highest ranking of “Young Gun.”

NRCC spokeswoman Joanna Burgos insists Harmer’s status does not reflect a lack of support. The Young Guns program requires candidates to meet benchmarks for fundraising, campaign organization and develoment of a media plan. The higher the candidate climbs, in theory, the more resources the national party will throw in his or her direction.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., compared it in Roll Call to the Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

It’s unclear what Harmer lost when he failed to make the “contender” list other than bragging rights. The NRCC declined to say what kind of dollars are on the table.

But the NRCC is helping Harmer with get-out-the-vote activities and helped pay for a poll in early October, although I suspect the Harmer campaign was hoping for more tangible signs of the party’s enthusiasm … like a big fat independent expenditure.

Other than labor-sponsored mailers in the Sept. 1 primary for Garamendi, there have been no independent expenditures in this campaign. It yet another indication that special interests view this race as either unwinnable or in the bag, and have put their resources into more competitive seat.

Even most Republican political consultants view this seat as out of reach for a GOP candidate with its 18-point Democratic registration advantage coupled with Garamendi’s money and name identification.

Harmer hopes disgruntled voters and a strong volunteer ground campaign will lead to an upset but there is scant evidence at this point to reject conventional wisdom.

Politico.com on Monday tallied up the party registration of folks that have already voted by mail in the district’s four counties and found Democrats leading Republicans by 5,000 ballots.

It’s entirely possible that some of those Democrats voted for Harmer. But party registration is the single-most reliable indicator of an election’s outcome. Had a disportionate number of Republicans already voted, Garamendi might have something to worry about, California Target Book co-author Allan Hoffenblum told me last week.

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  • Ralph Hoffmann, Guest Columnist

    Only Harmer changing his position on Afghanistan withdrawal could affect opinion polls in the last week.

  • Elwood

    What, pray tell, is his position?

    Can he find Afghanistan on a map?

  • Serge Molay

    NRCC are realists. They are ruthlessly cold and calculating when they evaluate these candidates. The local chattering class such as the CRP cretans are completely punch-drunk on this Mormon candidate. Refusing to acknowledge their impotence, they have tricked themselves. The Great Pumpkin ain’t gonna show up. Start practicing now: CONGRESSMAN GARAMENDI.

  • Tom Benigno

    Concerned:
    The NRCC as the CRA who claim to be conservative republicans, are far from that. Most of theses committee’s are stuffed with special interest lobbyist who claim to be republicans, just to get jobs as campaign managers.

    They move within the system like a bunch rattle snacks. Some who even get elected to the committees and vote against their own. The San Joaquin County Central Committee has two of these boy’s. Who can we trust if it’s all about money?

  • RDK

    No, the NRCC couldn’t possibly help Harmer, they are way to involved in wasting all GOP money and losing their base in NY 23.

  • Elwood

    Ain’t nothin’ I hate worse than a damn’ rattle snack!

  • Tom K

    Who wants to wager on the results in Walnut Creek in the race between Garamendi and Harmer? I’ll take Garamendi. Anyone?

  • scott talan

    While serving in office as elected city council member and Mayor of Lafayette in the mid-90′s,I had a convenient mantra: “There are no votes in Paris.”

    This was my jocular response when people asked why I didn’t travel and always seemed to be working and networking. I believed that time away from politics was politically unproductive. Political life has an all-consuming tendency where other pursuits from travel to leisure to friendships are viewed through a political lens.

    Fast forward to now. After leaving politics (unopposed for reelection and successfully completing my term in office) in the mid-90’s I went into TV News and had the chance to live in several interesting places across the country. Then came grad school at Harvard and a chance to take a breath and travel to distant lands.

    After returning to reality stateside, I moved to Washington DC teaching and working in higher education. While these aspects made my life richer it made me politically poorer as a potential candidate for office.

    My main interests in running for the 10th Congressional District focused on improving higher education, curbing excessive federal spending and supporting sensible efforts to help save our environment. But in talking to friends and supporters, mostly in Contra Costa, and experts in Washington DC I decided not to run. This decision did not come easily and I debated even to the last minute. But three separate reasons combined in a powerful way in my decision not to:

    -Personal: The personal sacrifice you need to make to run and win is overwhelming. Over my life I realize there is more to life than politics, campaigning and getting elected to office. Congress also possesses extremely low approval ratings making its job even tougher. The Rasmussen Report this past year rated the favorable views U.S. citizens have of Congress at less than nine percent. Ouch. To enter than lions den of diminished respect and support takes chutzpah for sure. We should give credit and respect to those who run and offer to serve the public.

    -Money: Having a message is not enough. Having a vision is not enough. Wanting to serve is not enough. You need money to get your message out and convince people of your merits. Before I served in politics I worked in fundraising. Even so, the sums needed for a Congressional race are daunting even in a shortened special election. PACS, labor unions, developers and other specialized interests will contribute to the candidate that will best serve their interests. But for those running that wont be enough as the totals necessary to compete will be well into the six figures just to be competitive. Fundraising will consume more of a candidate’s time and focus instead of communicating to voters and the media.

    -Two Party ‘Choice’: In a country built on freedom of choice it is surprising that we are limited with just two main political parties to choose from on Election Day. Running as an independent is challenging enough but doing so in an off-year election makes it even more so as activist party members tend to dominate. This is especially true in the California 10th Congressional District which, like almost all others, has been created to favor one party over another. This is why the 10th District ranges over 4 counties and 2 dozen cities stretching all the way up to the Sacramento Valley. There have been only a handful of Independent candidates who have been elected to office in California and ever fewer to Congress.

    Truly competitive Congressional elections are rare as Nate Silver points out in fivethirtyeight.com. Silver’s research shows there are very few cases of close congressional elections anymore. Since 2000 there have been 2,175 elections to the US House and less than 2 percent of them have been close with a percentage point or two making the difference. All of this means less choice for voters. We have dozens of choices in everything from the toothpaste we brush with to the cars we drive and the movies we watch. But in politics it’s either party R or party D.

    California is in deep trouble right now and needs to elect talented public officials who will perform at a consistently superior level in office. California also needs friends wherever it can find them. Whomever gets elected next week I’ll be glad to welcome our new Congressional member, most likely John Garamendi or David Harmer, to DC and show them around town. There is more to Washington than just Capitol Hill. It’s a great place to live.

    My father always said “you can never have enough education”. But there are many ways to learn and I I’d suggest the winning candidate buy and read ‘The Waxman Report’ so they can get a quick briefing on how to best make an impact while in office. In the end that’s what really matters: being able to say what you accomplished in helping improve the lives and opportunities of those you represent. If you just run to have a new political title, move up the electoral ladder, or cap your career, that is a wonderful opportunity that should not be wasted. California and the 10th District can’t afford anything but the best and deserves nothing less.

    Scott R. Talan, MPA
    Former Mayor & City Council Member of Lafayette

    Web Bio & Career Profile
    http://www.careerhandlers.com/ScottTalan/

  • Tom Benigno

    Concerned:
    I went to sleep reading this last post. Scott now we know why government works so slow,you guys write too much.

  • scott talan

    Tom-I understand your concern and to agree brevity has its rewards but speed can cause its own complications. Best, scott

  • Tom Benigno

    Scott:
    It has come to the attention of many political watch dogs that there are too many documents to read. Saying that, we can see why many bills are passed by our elected officials.
    There are so many pages to read, only those who wrote the bills can understand what was written. Especially to read and understand 500 pages, 48 hours before voting on that bill.
    Lets cut through the MUCK of special interest lobbyist,and limit the amount of words in a bill.