CD11: Harmer speaks out but no concession yet



UPDATE: DEC. 3, 2010, 4:41 P.M. Harmer made the call to McNerney about an hour ago, where he officially conceded and congratulated McNerney.

As it turns out, unsuccessful 11th Congressional District GOP nominee David Harmer isn’t missing. He was moving. Literally.

The lease on his San Ramon house expired Nov. 30, and he and his wife, Elayne, and their four kids, have been packing, moving and unpacking their new household. They didn’t go far; just a mile away to another house in Windemere, one that will allow his children to stay in their current schools.

But no, Harmer isn’t ready to concede even though he characterized his chances of overturning Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney’s victory as a miracle comparable to that of the parting of the Red Sea. (Read my full news story here.)

Prior to making that concession call to McNerney or issuing a statement, his skeletal remaining campaign staff wants to review the precinct-level voting data from Contra Costa County. Harmer says they are looking for irregularities that might indicate a problem, such as wildly out-of-whack results.

If they find major problems, they could request a recount or seek intervention from the House of Representatives, which could overrule the local election results. (The last time that happened was in the 1980s in an Indiana congressional race.)

“We haven’t been itching to contest the results, no one enjoys that,” Harmer said during a telephone call this morning. “What we have wanted to do is to understand what happened, and to the extent there are any questions about the accuracy or legitimacy of the process, we want to address those in a responsible way so that questions don’t linger into the future. It is for the benefit of all the participants.”

What are Harmer’s immediate plans?

Get a job and lose the 20 pounds he gained the on the campaign trail, he says.

The attorney has been campaigning full-time for the past 1 1/2 years, and the family savings account has dwindled, he says.

“I think you asked me at some point earlier in the campaign what I would do if I lost, and I said that the Harmer family would be grateful for the chance to serve but if we lost, the Harmer family would be grateful to return to normal life,” Harmer said. “That’s still true.”

He says he has no plans to run for public office again, although one “never says never.”

Harmer has run for Congress three times; in Utah in 1996, the 10th District in California in 2009 and the 11th District, where he lost by 1.1 percentage points.

“My feeling is that if we couldn’t do it this year, when could we do it?” Harmer said. “We were running during a predicted Republican wave and we couldn’t have had a better campaign operation. It’ s hard to imagine doing better.”

The toughest part about the outcome, Harmer says, has been dealing with not only his own disappointment but that of his family and supporters. They invested a great deal of time, emotion and money into his candidacy.

“It’s hard not to feel as though you let people down,” Harmer said. “But disappointment is different than regret. You never regret playing the game just because you lost.”

As for speculation about the financial state of his campaign, Harmer says the final numbers will show a modest surplus. He may even refund a portion of contributions made to his campaign after Election Day.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • John W

    Part of me is sympathetic to Harmer and his family and the effort it will take for them to normalize their lives and establish a livelihood. Being 47 years old and having had a real job for only 8 years (Providian and WaMu) is a bummer. But this business of wanting to understand what happened in the election before conceding is nonsense. David Christensen is what happened; and, consequently, McNerney got more votes. End of story.

  • ted ford

    I regret I was so sharp in my previous comment as well. It is tough for anyone to be 47 and out of a job. Harmer, and any candidate for that matter — particularly those who may have lost — has endured a tough course and deserves to be cut a bit of slack.

  • Bill

    I believe had the Republican Party had a better candidate the results could have been different, however Jerry had some real bipartisan support something that Harmer didn’t have and didn’t try to appeal to. His base was about 3000 votes short of what he was trying to do. He is done in politics having lost 3 times now. Fade to black for this Tea Party rebel.

  • ted ford

    Losing a close race is tough and it must be gnawing at him that Christensen did him in. Now Harmer knows how Al Gore feels about Ralph Nader. Running for office can be a bit addictive. Harmer is at the second or so of the five step process ‘denial…. acceptance’. I hope he didn’t lose a lot of his own personal money in the race. I got a hunch he thought it was in the bag.

  • John W

    Political blogger at another paper says Harmer texted him Friday night (while at a movie with his kids), confirming that he called McNerney to concede and congratulate, with no plans to contest anything. Said he planned a statement today (Saturday).

  • danvilledan

    I am sorry Mr. Harmer is unemployed but hopefully He can use His education for employment opportunities. I wonder how Mr. Harmer would have voted to extend unemployment benefits. Hopefully he would not need the extension.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Running for office is addictive, but this is Harmer’s at least 3rd try for Congress as he ran in Utah. I ran for public non-partisan office 4 times before deciding I couldn’t get elected Dog Catcher.

  • John W

    If he runs a fourth time, I’ll conclude that his political hero is Harold Stassen.

  • John W

    Ralph Hoffman, if you run for Dog Catcher, I promise to vote for you. First, we need a county ballot measure to create the office so that you can fun for it. Otherwise, you need a spouse on the Board of Supervisors to appoint you.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    John or Steve, there’s currently a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors, as Susan Bonilla has already has been seated in the Assembly, but Karen Mitchoff won’t take her Supervisor seat until after January 1. Can anyone be appointed to fill the BOS vacancy in the interim, if needed?

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Lisa, you gave the Harmer concession 3 sentences in the Sunday CCT print version on this subject, vs. many,many on the subject “Boycott of newspaper a bad idea.” Are you planning to have a blog on the Political Blotter on the boycott?

  • steve weir

    Vacancies on the Board of Supervisors are filled by the Governor. (Government Code Sec. 25060)

    If Supervisor Bonilla had taken, signed, and filed her oath, her seat on the Board is vacant. (

  • John W

    He probably doesn’t even live in that Supervisor district, but I nominate Dan Borenstein.

  • Tom Benigno

    To Steve Weir:
    Steve am I missing something here? I ran for supervisor in 2008 in the San Joaqin County against another candidate, I had to pay my fee and get signatures to get on the ballot to run for supervisor.

    Where was the governor when I ran for supervisor, my opponent had already served two terms, and was allowed by County Counsel to run for another term. He won the race so what you’re telling us is that the governor appoints, supervisors? I want my money back or I won the race by default, we ran unopposed as non partisian candidates.
    Please get back to me on this one please.

    P.S. We have five districts and five supervisors.

  • steve weir

    Tom, the office became vacant because of Supervisor Bonilla’s election to the California Assembly. When she takes her Assembly seat (I think that happened today), her Supervisor’s Seat becomes vacant.

  • ted ford

    It’s better to have Borenstein at the paper. We are lucky to have him. I think someone should put him and the CCT up for a Pulitzer for reporting and editorials on the pension issue. The CC Times has been miles ahead of the SF Chronicle and LA Times on this issue.

  • John W

    I was just kidding about Dan and doubt he has any appetite for elective politics. But he would get my vote. I completely agree with your comments about him and the CCT.

  • Tom Benigno

    For SteveWeir:
    Thanks Steve for responding. Two things happened here with Supervisor Bonilla. First he was still in office as a supervisor and second he should have had to resign to run for assembly.
    The rules of campaign finance exposure in this case are very fine, Bonilla had his cake and he ate it too. We know that some races fall while many are still in office, but it is their responsibility to file a notice of intent that they will be running for another office.
    That would bring more interest to the election process, no matter who they are.
    As we have just seen in Tracy, they bullet proofed an initative to take the city clerk job off the ballot and appoint that position. NO APPOINTMENTS PLEASE.

  • ralph hoffmann

    SUSAN Bonilla should be referred to as “she.”

  • Tom Benigno

    Sorry for the gender mistake. Let’s stick to the subject, candidates should have to do all the things that were mentioned in the comment. The appointment process is the issue, let’s not change the rules in the middle of the game for special interest.
    Let’s keep the elections process intact.