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CD10: NRCC support for Harmer remains modest

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.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen