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CD11: Dueling polls emerge





After yesterday’s release of a KPIX-TV poll showing 11th District GOP nominee David Harmer with a 6-point lead, Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney followed today with a statement about an internal poll that gives him a 10-point advantage.

What is a poor voter supposed to believe?

So, here’s the deal.

McNerney’s poll was done on Sept. 21-25, nearly a month ago. That makes a difference. His campaign did not tell us what question was asked, in what order it was ask or provide crosstabs that would break down the age, party or gender of the 500 people surveyed.

That’s typical. Campaigns commission internal polling all the time and they rarely release the details; it’s like asking a football team to publish their playbook. But it also means that we cannot judge the veracity of such polls with any great confidence.

In contrast, all the information about the KPIX-TV poll conducted by SurveyUSA is online. More significant, the television station doesn’t work for either of the candidates. (My personal thanks to the station for spending the money on an independent poll!)

For review purposes, the pollster surveyed 624 likely and actual voters on Oct. 8-11 and found that, if the election were held that day, Harmer would beat McNerney 48 percent to 42 percent. (Click here to read the initial post.)

Which poll is more accurate? Polls are a snapshot in time so the more recent survey is probably a better reflection of current opinions.

But there are some caveats to the SurveyUSA poll. The firm uses an automated telephone polling system. The individual who picks up the phone enters his or her answer via the telephone keypad. No live pollster asks the questions nor can the automated system confirm that an actual voter or likely voter has answered the telephone.

That said, KPIX commissioned similar polls in the 2009 10th Congressional District special election and the results were remarkably close to the final outcome.

The crosstabs show that among the 624 participants, 41 percent identified themselves as Republicans; 39 percent as Democrats and 18 percent as nonpartisan. The most telling result may be among the independents, which prefer Harmer over McNerney 50 percent to 32 percent.

Actual party registration in the district is much closer between the two major parties. But keep in mind that turnout won’t necessarily match registration. Candidates win with a plurality of the votes cast by the people who actually show up.

Read on for McNerney’s full news release. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Congress, congressional district 11 | 17 Comments »

Miller to Boehner: We’re not that close



Stop with the pals talk, Democratic Rep. George Miller told Minority House Leader John Boehner of Ohio in so many words today.

Boehner referenced Miller, and a bill they worked on together, as part of his speech at the American Enterprise Institute, citing it as example of how the Republican would work across the aisle as speaker if the GOP wins control of the House in the mid-term election.  Nine years ago, both men worked to pass  “No Child Left Behind” legislation.

Boehner has made this reference to Miller on several occasions now, prompting  about five high profile national reporters in recent days to contact the Democrat’s office to inquire about the unlikely pals.

Miller is having none of it.

“Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth,” Miller said. “Our work together on No Child Left Behind was one moment in time that has itself been left behind. In fact, our work together on that bill illustrates an entirely opposite point than what the Minority Leader would have us believe.”

Read on for Miller’s full statement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Under: Congress | 3 Comments »

CD11: Harmer unveils his first TV ad

Congressional District 11 GOP nominee David Harmer unveiled his first television ad today, where he focused on government spending, and in what is likely to be an ongoing theme of the election, linked opponent and Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We’re facing 20 percent unemployment in parts of our district and one of America’s highest foreclosure rates,” Harmer says in the ad.  “Washington’s answer? Punish success. Subsidize failure. More spending. More government. More Debt. And that means less for our families.”

Interestingly, Harmer identifies himself in the spot as a constitutional attorney. It is only a partially accurate job description.

It is true that he was a Bradley Resident Fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., in 1995-1996. And he worked in 1989-1990 as an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento and the prior year as counsel for a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Senate Judicial Committee.

Harmer’s most recent employment, however, was  nine years as  former first vice president and assistant general counsel in the credit card division at Providian, which was acquired by Washington Mutual and then JPMorgan Chase. He lost his job in January 2009 after JPMorgan acquired WaMu and shut down its redundant credit card division. He collected unemployment for a brief time until he decided to run in 2009 for Congress in the 10th District special election.

Here is the ad:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Under: Congress, congressional district 11 | 16 Comments »

Rep. Miller will keynote business lunch

Rep. George Miller

Rep. George Miller

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will keynote the luncheon meeting of the Contra Costa Council and its Small Business Task Force from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Aug. 25 at the Holiday Inn in Concord.

Miller will speak on small business issues and provide an update from the Capitol.

Reservations are due by noon on Aug. 23. The event is open to the public.

The cost is $35 for members and elected officials and $45 for nonmembers. Contact the council at 925-246-1880  or

Posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010
Under: Congress, Contra Costa County | 3 Comments »

East Bay reps host senior aid workshops

The boys are back in town.

And I’m betting the three East Bay congressional representatives don’t mind being called “boys.”

Despite a quick trip to Washington, D.C., for a Tuesday emergency vote on a state aid bill, reps. George Miller, John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney — all voted yes on the state aid legislation — have announced series of public events in their home districts during Congress’ annual August recess:


Miller, D-Martinez, will host a 75th birthday party for Social Security from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Richmond Annex Senior Center, 5801 Huntington Ave., Richmond. Speakers include representatives of AARP, West County Senior Coalition, Richmond Commission on Aging and others.

Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will host a senior resources fair from 9 a.m.-noon at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center, 213 F Street in Antioch. The congressman will also cut a birthday cake for Social Security’s 75th anniversary. Booths with staff from federal, state and county service offices will offer information about medical care, nutrition and health screenings.


McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will host a senior assistance workshop from 10 am. to noon at the Brentwood Senior Activity Center, 193 Griffith Lane, Brentwood. On hand will be representatives from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and Contra Costa County Aging and Adult Services.


McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will host a grants workshop from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., San Ramon Community Center, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon. Government, education and nonprofits are encouraged to attend and learn how to apply for federal and foundation grants. Speakers include representatives from the Department of Education and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Posted on Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10, congressional district 11 | 1 Comment »

Tauscher diagnosed with esophageal cancer

Ellen Tausher

Ellen Tausher

UPDATE: Those who wish to send a card or note may use this address: Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington DC 20520

Former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, a top arms control official in President Obama administration who represented the East Bay for 14  years, has been diagnosed with early stage cancer of the esophagus, according to published this morning a memo that Tauscher sent to her staff last week:

“I had not been feeling well for several weeks. Fortunately, instead of sending me home with some medicine, my doctors did test after test to figure out what was wrong,” she wrote in a July 21 memo to all the members of her “T” bureau. “Nothing is certain, but the prognosis is good.”

Tauscher, the former California congresswoman who has been leading the State Department’s nonproliferation and arms-control efforts, has been working non-stop since her appointment last year, including several trips to Russia and Eastern Europe. She’s been at the center of the administration’s efforts to revamp plans for missile-defense deployment abroad and negotiate Obama’s new strategic arms treaty with Russia.

A close friend of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she’s been given credit for restaffing, reorganizing, and revamping the arms-control bureau at State, which Obama administration officials say was neglected during the George W. Bush administration.

Tauscher started an aggressive treatment regiment, which will include surgery. She’ll continue on in her duties, albeit with a scaled-back travel schedule, with the goal being a full recovery by early next year.

The Web site contains a copy of her full memo to her staff.

My prayers go out to Tauscher for a full and speedy recovery.

UPDATE 7/28/10: Tauscher friend David Bowlby sent this comment over this morning:

“Ellen has been a very special, dear friend for many, many years. She truly is a strong, resilient and remarkable person. I know her loving husband, daughter, parents, siblings and her huge, deep circle of friends and colleagues will provide her with love, encouragement and support.”

Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Under: Congress, Contra Costa politics | 3 Comments »

Miller calls for Mare Island national park

Mare Island, Vallejo

Mare Island, Vallejo

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, has asked the National Park Service to evaluate the former military on Mare Island in Vallejo for suitability as a park.

Click here to read Miller’s  full release.

Miller acted upon the request of Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis.

“Even for those of us who have spent our entire lives in the Bay Area, there is always more we can learn about the importance of places like Port Chicago and Mare Island,” Miller said in a prepared statement. “By making these places national parks, we’re helping preserve them for the next generation so they can better understand our past.”

Miller also helped designate as national park sites Port Chicago, Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front memorial in Richmond and the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez.



In other congressional news out of Miller’s office this week:

As chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Miller demanded today that BP immediately evaluate clean-up workers’ exposure to hazardous chemicals and working conditions from federal occupational health and safety scientists.  (Click here to read the full release.)

Miller held a press conference Thursday with lawmakers, daytime host, author and child nutrition advocate Rachael Ray and anti-hunger and child nutrition advocates to unveil the details of The “Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act.” (Click here to read the full release.)

Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2010
Under: Congress, George Miller | 3 Comments »

CD10: AIP nominee passes away

Jerry Denham

Jerry Denham

Jerome “Jerry” Denham, the colorful face of the East Bay American Independent Party and its two-time candidate for the 10th Congressional District, has died. He was 74. (Watch the Contra Costa Times Web site for his obituary on Sunday.)

Denham passed away unexpectedly several days before the June 8 primary election, where he was unopposed in his second bid for his party’s nomination. He also ran in the 2009 special election to replace former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who left for a State Department post.

The American Independent Party on Thursday night selected Vincent May, an El Cerrito biofuels consultant, as the party’s new nominee. May expects to finalize all the necessary paperwork at the election office this afternoon. (May was seriously considering running for governor. You can visit his Web site at He says he will revamp this site when he launches his congressional campaign.)

May will run on Nov. 2 against Democratic incumbent John Garamendi, of Walnut Grove, and GOP nominee, retired peace officer and farmer Gary Clift, of Vacaville.

Denham was a unique political figure in the East Bay, where he often appeared at local events wearing red, white and blue and handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution.

During the 2009 special election, the dapper Walnut Creek insurance salesman and financial planner campaigned with the vigor and enthusiasm of a much younger candidate.

He said at the time that he never intended to run for Congress and was grooming others to take his place. Denham founded the Freedom Coalition, an educational organization that taught people about the U.S. Constitution.

But his protégés weren’t ready, so he put his own name on the ballot.

He was under no illusion that he would win. Only 2.3 percent of the district’s registered voters are members of his party.

Like many minority party candidates, Denham saw his candidacy as an opportunity to publicize his party’s platform.

And he was always good for a feisty quote.

“I look forward to the day when some real estate agent will pound a huge ‘For Sale’ sign in front of the Internal Revenue Services as well as many other buildings in the District of Criminals,” he said during the 2009 campaign.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on June 26 at the North Creek Church, 2303 Ygnacio Valley Road in Walnut Creek.

Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2010
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10 | 3 Comments »

CD11: Harmer outpacing opponents in cash

GOP 11th District candidate David Harmer is outpacing his three opponents in the money race, according to Federal Election Commission filings posted tonight.

Harmer reported raising $169,133 in the last reporting period (April 1 through May 19), a figure well ahead of Brad Goehring at $91,749, Elizabeth Emken at $30,129; and Tony Amador at $16,905.

Harmer has also outraised his challengers for the full election cycle, particularly when you factor in the personal loans, of which Harmer has made none.

Goehring continues to shuffle his personal money around. He has loaned his campaign $1.075 million but he has repaid himself $925,000, including $300,000 in the last reporting period.

But Goehring may have experienced a post-reporting deadline money boost after his national kerfuffle last week with liberal MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann. Goehring put out a fundraising appeal and says his online contributions have gone up. We won’t know until after the election.

The figures below are for the 2010 election cycle through May 19, the close of the reporting period.

DAVID HARMER: Raised $555,533. Spent $415,432. Had $207,560 in the bank. Reported debts of $27,161. No personal loans.

BRAD GOEHRING: Raised $379,106. Spent $464,175. Had $62,332 in the ban. Debts of $157,748. Made net personal loans of $150,000. (He has loaned his campaign a total of $1.075 million but has repaid himself $925,000.)

ELIZABETH EMKEN: Raised $236,266. Spent $311,311. Had $123,954 in the bank. Reported debts of $200,000. Made net personal loans of $200,000.

TONY AMADOR: Raised $143,352. Spent $172,114. Had $21,023 in the bank. Reported debts of $52,825. Made personal loans of $50,000.

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Under: Congress, congressional district 11 | 4 Comments »

CD11: Emken targets Harmer in nasty mailer

GOP primary 11th Congressional District candidate Elizabeth Emken has hit opponent David Harmer with a nasty mailer (post below) that paints him as a greedy credit card lawyer for a failed bank who profited from the federal bailout.

Emken and Harmer are in a tight, four-way primary race for their party’s nomination on June 8 and the opportunity to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney.

The other two Republican candidates, Tony Amador and Brad Goehring, have weighed in on the issue,  as well. (See their responses at the bottom of this post.)

The mailer contains the usual mix of truth and distortions. Here is an analysis of its contents and the Harmer campaign’s response:

WHAT IT SAYS: “Harmer took $485,779 in bonus and pay from a Wall Street bailout bank seized by federal regulators.”

IS IT TRUE? Yes and no. Washington Mutual, where Harmer was a first vice president and assistant general counsel in its credit card division, never received bailout money.

The FDIC forced Washington Mutual into receivership on Sept. 25, 2008, and orchestrated the a sale to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

A month later, JPMorgan Chase received $25 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. There is no evidence on way or the other that JPMorgan, which had already acquired Bear Stearns, used or needed TARP money to buy Washington Mutual. (A reader sent this link from BusinessInsider, where the author suggests documents show the federal government forced JPMorgan Chase and the other banks to take the bailout; that they didn’t want it.)

However, Harmer collected a salary, bonus and severance from JPMorgan Chase for a few months until the new owner shut down the division — it already had one — and he lost his job in January 2009.

Several banking industry experts say only JPMorgan knows if it used TARP funds to cover or enable its Washington Mutual acquisition costs, such as Harmer’s severance check.  There were no requirements that banks segregate and publicly identify how or if they spent TARP funds.

HARMER RESPONSE: “Harmer never took a single dime of bailout funding. It’s blatantly untrue. The piece is designed to distort the picture.”

WHAT IT SAYS: “Harmer took almost half a million dollars in bonuses and pay in the months leading up to his bank’s seizure.”

IS IT TRUE? Yes. Harmer earned $219,714 in salary and an $80,000 bonus in 2008. In the first few months of 2009, before JPMorgan closed his division, Harmer was paid $26,073 in salary and a $75,406 bonus.

He subsequently received an $84,586 severance check, for a total of $485,779 between Jan. 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009.

HARMER RESPONSE: “It’s meaningless. Everyone with a job has earned some amount of money in any given time period.”

WHAT IT SAYS: “After his bank was seized by federal regulators and sold to JPMorgan, taxpayers were on the hook for $25 billion in federal bailout money.”

IS IT TRUE? Yes. JPMorgan was one of 19 banks that federal regulators deemed eligible for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Congress authorized it Oct. 3, 2008, about two weeks after the FDIC seized and sold Washington Mutual.
JPMorgan has repaid the money plus with interest.

HARMER RESPONSE: “That fact that Washington Mutual failed or JPMorgan Chase bought it had nothing to do with Harmer. He worked in the credit card compliance division, where he did his job very well and he was rewarded.”

WHAT IT SAYS: “Then Harmer turned around and had the nerve to file a jobless claim and collected nearly $2,400 from California’s Unemployment Insurance Fund. Unemployment insurance should be reserved for people truly in need — not greedy lawyers …”

IS IT TRUE? Yes and no.

Harmer collected $2,395 in unemployment insurance through April 30, 2009. However, all eligible workers who pay into the unemployment insurance pool receive benefits regardless of whether they “need” the money.

The implication is that as a conservative candidate who opposes TARP and the other federal stimulus dollars, it looks bad for Harmer to collect unemployment while he runs for Congress.

HARMER RESPONSE: “It is insurance. David Harmer has paid in far more into the system than he has ever collected.”

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Click through to see Amador and Goehring’s statements on this issue.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Congress, congressional district 11 | 6 Comments »