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CD11: Great NYT story about Miller’s D.C. flophouse

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Check out this super smart New York Times story by Ashley Parker at the NYT:

WASHINGTON — This week’s news that Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, is planning to retire at the end of the year reverberated around the House of Representatives, where Mr. Miller has served since 1975.

But the news hit even harder around another less stately, more fratlike house about a quarter-mile southeast of the Capitol, where Mr. Miller has lived for more than 30 years with a rotating cadre of congressional Democrats — and which served as the inspiration for the Amazon web series “Alpha House.”

Mr. Miller, 68, who owns the two-story, two-bedroom house — part messy crash pad, part political seminar — currently shares it with Senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the majority whip, and Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat … 

Read the rest of the story here.

Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Under: Congress, congressional district 11 | 1 Comment »

GOP fret in 11th District premature

Republicans worry too many candidates will flood the Congressional District 11 primary in 2012 and lead to repeat of the party’s narrow November loss in the 11th Congressional District, reports The Hill, a Washington, D.C., politics publication.

GOP nominee David Harmer prevailed in a hard-fought, expensive four-way primary before falling short against incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney in the general election.

The Hill also writes that the GOP’s predicament could be exacerbated by the new voter-approved open primary system under which the top two finishers in congressional and legislative races in June will compete in the November general election regardless of party affiliation.

Undoubtedly, the party is fielding plenty of calls from would-be congressional candidates who remember the GOP’s high hopes for win this district last year. And we’ve seen the GOP spent a few bucks lately on robocalls targeting McNerney, which suggests the party intends to again focus on the seat.

One 24-year-old San Joaquin County Republican, Ricky Gill, a UC-Berkeley law student, has declared his candidacy, The Hill says. And Elizabeth Emken, one of four Republicans who ran in the 2010 primary, may re-enter.  My sources say Harmer, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice in California, is moving on to other pursuits.

But it is premature to start losing sleep over the 11th District from either political camp.

For one, this district appears likely to experience major boundary changes under redistricting. It’s a heavily gerrymandered district split by the Altamont Pass and spread across four counties. Mapping experts believe the independent map-making process now under way will produce a more compact 11th District whose party registration balance could look very different — it’s almost dead even at the moment — when it’s over. The state redistricting panel is redrawing the maps and will release drafts in early June.

A party registration gap of 5 or 6 points one way or the other in a newly constituted 11th District would make a huge difference in the predictive success — and ability to attract contributions — of any Republican challenger. And while members of Congress are not legally required to live in the districts they represent, it’s a big advantage.

Second, the top-two primary could encourage other Democrats to run against McNerney. Granted, Democrats will work hard behind the scenes to avoid such a scenario.

But the whole point of the top two primary was to provide voters a choice between the two most viable candidates by allowing them to advance to the general election even if they hail from the same party.

Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »

McNerney named leader on veterans committee



Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will serve as the ranking Democratic Party member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

In a quote provided by his office, McNerney said, “I’m honored to serve as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. This subcommittee is responsible for overseeing most benefits for our veterans, such as disability and pension benefits. I’m committed to improving care for the men and women who have served our country and, as ranking member of this important subcommittee I will continue my work in this area.”

Like most members of Congress, McNerney has developed an strong policy interest in a particular arena. McNerney focuses heavily on veterans issues and has sat on the committee since 2007. Many Democrats lost their favored committee assignments after the GOP took majority control of the House. The Republican leaders also reduced committee sizes, which further reduced the Democrats’ assignments.

According to McNerney’s office: The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs oversees the process by which the Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits for veterans, including disability, pension, life insurance and burial benefits. The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs is also responsible for overseeing the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims. These bodies review and issue decisions for benefit claims determinations made by local veterans offices.

Posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
Under: congressional district 11, veterans | No Comments »

McNerney returns to science committee



In yet another fall-out after the Democrats’ loss of majority status in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will lose his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

He will return to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, his first assignment after he was initially elected in 2006. McNerney will remain on the Veterans Affairs Committee, his signature policy area. He had served on Energy and Commerce just one term.

“The congressman enjoyed his time on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but he is very excited about going back to the Science, Space and Technology Committee,” said spokeswoman Sarah Hersh.

A PHd mathematician who designed wind turbines, McNerney has a keen interest in green technology and science.

McNerney’s shift is the result of the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives. Not only does the majority party hold more seats on committees but the GOP leaders also cut the overall size of the committees.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, lost his seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, leaving the Bay Area with no direct representation on the committee.  And Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will leave the House Natural Resources Committee after more than 35 years on the panel.

Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10, congressional district 11 | 4 Comments »

Nearly $7 million spent on CD11 campaign

California 11th Congressional District’s candidates, political parties and other groups spent $6.76 million on the campaign, according to new figures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Victorious Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, significantly outspent his opponent, GOP nominee David Harmer, $3 million vs. $2 million.

But it was the independent expenditures that put McNerney in the serious money: The vast majority of the $2 million spent by groups outside the campaign targeted Harmer or supported McNerney.

A great deal of the anti-Harmer money was spent in the final 10 days of the campaign, and the Republican’s supporters failed to match the dollars.

(Update: A caller reminds me that these totals do not include the money spent by groups that do not have to file with the FEC. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federal of Business spent money to help Harmer in this campaign.)

Here’s a breakdown of the totals:

MCNERNEY: $2.88 million, total contributions; $3.03 million, total expenses; $8,024 in debts; $38,008 cash on hand.

HARMER: $1.88 million, total contributions; $1.97 total expenses; $36,247 in  debts;  $36,247 cash on hand.

Independent expenditures totaled more than $2 million:

  • Oppose Harmer $1,358,010
  • Support Harmer $68,342
  • Oppose McNerney: $459,109
  • Support McNerney $140,899
  • TOTAL: $2,026,361

Posted on Friday, December 3rd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Congress, congressional district 11, Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

CD11: Is Harmer MIA?



I just fielded my fifth call today asking the whereabouts of the concession statement from 11th District GOP candidate David Harmer in the wake of his loss to Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney.

Here’s the short answer: There isn’t one. I haven’t heard from Harmer despite numerous calls and emails to his campaign spokespeople.

And no, contrary to the accusation from one caller, our failure to mention the fact that Harmer had not returned calls in our published story today does not reflect any bias other than the fact that we decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

For all we knew, he was dealing with a major family emergency.

UPDATE 3:20 P.M. I just got off the phone with Harmer campaign spokesman Tim Clark , who tells me that we will hear from the candidate “when the time is right for him” although the timing is uncertain. In the meantime, Clark said, Harmer and the campaign staff are reviewing concerns about the expedited signature comparison of vote-by-mail ballots in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. It’s unclear what action Harmer may take.

But here we are, 24 hours after the final county in the 11th District certified its results and still no statement from Harmer. No return phone call. No email from Harmer. His campaign people indicated someone would be saying something but that something has yet to materialize.

There has been no concession call to McNerney, either, according to the congressman’s press secretary.

A concession is unnecessary to the process, of course. It’s a symbolic display of sportsmanship and good manners.

I’ve covered David Harmer through two congressional campaigns now, and he has always made himself readily available to the press. He has always been gracious and generous with his time.

Harmer lost by roughly 1 percentage point, hardly a vote of confidence for McNerney but a win for the Democrat nonetheless.  It is also most likely a sufficient enough margin to discourage a costly recount.

It’s possible that Harmer is seriously contemplating whether to pay for a recount. Perhaps he is lobbying for the House of Representatives to intervene based on some type of allegations of voter fraud. Or both.

He may have campaign debt and it is undeniably easier to ask for money to keep the fight alive. The post-general Federal Election Commission campaign finance report deadline is Thursday, so we’ll have a better idea of the candidates’ financial picture when those reports come out.

The only person who really knows is Harmer.

I’ll keep calling.

Posted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
Under: congressional district 11 | 24 Comments »

CD11: McNerney officially wins re-election



Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, has officially won re-election to a third term.

Contra Costa County, the fourth and final county in the 11th Congressional District, certified its election results late this morning, which widened McNerney’s final margin of victory over GOP nominee David Harmer to 2,658 votes.

The final vote tally: McNerney, 115,361 votes, or 47.97 percent; Harmer, 112,703, or 46.86 percent; and David Christensen, American Independent, 12,439, or 5.17 percent.

McNerney had been trailing Harmer in Contra Costa County, but overtook him as the final votes were tallied. He eventually beat Harmer by 92 votes in Contra Costa and prevailed in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Harmer won in the more conservative San Joaquin County by 4,493 votes, or 3.6 percentage points. This result could prove telling for McNerney’s 2012 re-election prospects, as redistricting next year will almost certainly shift his district’s boundaries eastward.

While the final vote count was tight — 1.1 percent of the 240,503 votes cast — it’s probably not close enough to warrant an expensive recount.

Any registered voter may request a recount but must pay for it. If the election results are overturned as a result of the recount, the county will refund the money.

The Republican Party had been watching this race closely, although both parties sent observers to watch vote counting in all four counties. The California Republican Party has said it will pursue a lawsuit in Contra Costa County in a dispute over the rights of observers to challenge vote-by-mail signatures but the outcome would unlikely impact the 11th District results.

The full county results are posted on its Web site,

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 11 Comments »

CD11: Harmer attends freshman orientation



Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney may have declared victory last week but that hasn’t stopped challenger and GOP nominee David Harmer from attending his party’s freshman orientation session in Washington, D.C.

“Since we don’t yet know whether I’ll become a new member of Congress, I’m participating with a unique blend of apprehension and hope,” Harmer wrote in a fund-raising appeal email late this afternoon.

As of today, McNerney holds a slim 1,751-vote lead over Harmer, or 0.76 percent of the total vote.  McNerney declared himself the victor last week, calling it statistically unlikely that Harmer could close the gap with the remaining uncounted votes. Harmer has refused to concede.

Alameda County has finished its count, while Santa Clara County had fewer than 500 ballots left to process in the 11th District.

San Joaquin County, where 55 percent of the 11th District’s voter live, had processed 3,500 of its approximately 9,000 uncounted provisional ballots as of this afternoon but not all of those ballots are in the 11th District.  (About half the county is in the 11th District.)

Harmer held a 4 percentage point lead in San Joaquin County. Unlike his counterparts in other 11th District counties, Registrar Austin Erdman said he has not segregated the congressional ballots due to close races in other parts of the county. Erdman said earlier today that he expects to post an updated countywide tally on Tuesday. (Update: Erdman said that figure will not include provisionals. He said he will post the provisional results when his office has finished processing all the provisional ballots. He hopes to finish before the Thanksgiving holiday next week.)

Contra Costa County will begin processing the 1,830 uncounted provisional ballots from the 11th District on Tuesday, said Registrar Steve Weir.  Harmer was holding a 0.2 percentage point lead in Contra Costa, or 118 votes.  In response to a lawsuit filed by the California Republican Party, Weir will set up observation stations for both sides to observe the provisional ballot processing for the remaining 11th District votes.

Here is Harmer’s full email, which serves as a plea for cash, too:

I’m writing from the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where I’m attending the orientation for new members of Congress. Since we don’t yet know whether I’ll become a new member of Congress, I’m participating with a unique blend of apprehension and hope.

Last night, at a dinner for the Republican freshmen in the Capitol’s magnificent Statuary Hall, I sat just a few feet from the site of John Quincy Adams’s old desk as Republican Leader and soon-to-be Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke of our charge from the American people. His watchword was humility; his counsel, servant leadership. He is determined to restore representation as the founders intended — a House that does the people’s business through the cumbersome, unpredictable, messy, but democratic means of legislation. He envisions a House where Representatives are actual legislators — not merely voters on proposals negotiated behind closed doors, but daily participants in the process of investigation, persuasion, negotiation, and debate.

For California to fail to contribute to this historic change in leadership, mission, and tone would be tragic, but it’s a very real risk. The wave that swept the rest of the nation, resulting in well over 60 net new Republican seats, seems to have washed up against the eastern flank of the Sierras without crossing their crest. So far Republicans haven’t picked up a single one of California’s 53 seats in the U.S. House. But the 11th District is still in play.

To ensure an accurate count of the remaining ballots, to prepare for a possible recount, and to do our best to complete the campaign successfully, we need to raise much more money. If you haven’t already done so, please consider contributing to our recount fund. Contributions of any amount are welcome, appreciated, and needed.

Yours truly,

David Harmer

P.S. Several of the freshmen here were already my friends. This wonderful week is giving me the opportunity to strengthen my relationships with them and to become acquainted with the others. They are tremendously supportive. They know how hard you’ve worked, how generously you’ve contributed, and how earnestly you’re praying for our campaign’s eventual success. Many of them are joining you in contributing to the recount fund — so you’re in very good company.

Posted on Monday, November 15th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 19 Comments »

CD11: McNerney declares victory, Harmer fights on

Incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, declared victory Wednesday evening in his race to retain his 11th Congressional District seat, saying the remaining ballots couldn’t possibly put Republican challenger David Harmer back on top.

“With the vast majority of votes tallied, the results are clear. Congressman McNerney now has an insurmountable lead,” McNerney campaign manager Doug Greven said in a news release.

Not so fast, cautioned Harmer.

“On Election Night, when I led by thousands of votes, and supporters were congratulating me and calling me Congressman, I cautioned that it was too early to claim victory. Many votes remained to be counted,” he said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday evening. “That is still the case tonight. Just as it would have been premature to claim victory then, it would be premature to concede defeat now.

“As I said the day after the election, my objective is to ensure that every legitimate vote is accurately counted. Once that has been done, I will offer a statement about the results.”

As of Wednesday evening, McNerney led Harmer by 1,681 votes, or about seven-tenths of a percent of the almost 231,000 ballots counted. A previous update, on Tuesday night, had shown McNerney up by 2,269 votes, but Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Santa Clara counties posted updates Wednesday.

Registrars in the four counties within the district continue to tally votes, and don’t expect to certify their final counts until at least Nov. 24.

McNerney — now seeking a third term in the House of Representatives — leads Harmer — an attorney from San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley area — in Alameda County by about 15.5 percentage points and in Santa Clara County by 8.2 points.

Harmer leads McNerney by about one-fifth of a point in Contra Costa County and by 4.3 points in San Joaquin County, the latter of which includes the largest chunk of the 11th District. San Joaquin County is also where American Independent nominee David Christensen fared best, with almost 7.1 percent of the votes cast; districtwide, he took about 5.1 percent.

McNerney’s campaign argued Wednesday that based on the trends so far, Harmer could close the gap by fewer than 300 votes from the 11,000 remaining provisional and vote-by-mail ballots in San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, while McNerney could expect to pick up more votes than Harmer from among about 700 still-uncounted ballots in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Posted on Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 59 Comments »