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Robert Redford just called me

No, he didn’t want to whisk me away to a life of wealth and leisure. (Don’t let my husband see this.)

He just wanted me to vote yes on Prop. 87, the oil-tax initiative.

Hey, don’t get me wrong: I still think it’s silly to try and lure voters with celebrities. But it’s okay to make an exception for Robert Redford, don’t you think?

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Election Day

I’ll be arriving in the office mid-afternoon, where I plan to blog throughout the day and into the night as returns come in.

Our biggest race, aside from the many local contests, is the congressional District 11 contest between Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney. We’ll have two reporters at the candidates’ campaign event plus photographers will document the event and post pictures later tonight.

In addition to the www.contracostatime.com home page, you can click here to go directly to the Times’ politics page.

Unfortunately, I’ll be in the office compiling the information from my colleagues in the field and won’t be able to visit the many victory parties! Besides, I couldn’t figure out to be in two places at once, i.e., the Pombo and McNerney events, so I have opted for a neutral location.

So, don’t forget to vote and then tune in later for all the fun.

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Clinton dazzles Stockton late Wednesday night

A sodden crowd of 1,000 stood in the rain for hours but they greeted former President Bill Clinton late Wednesday night with the enthusiasm of a reinvigorated Democratic Party who might find itself in charge of Congress next week.

Clinton lived up to his reputation as a dynamic and inspirational speaker who charmed this crowd into forgetting their wet shoes, damp hair and the late hour. He was more than an hour late from a Prop. 87 rally and Democratic Party fund-raiser in San Francisco.

“Oh, I wish Clinton was running again!” gushed one fan, who stood on the Stockton Airport tarmac amidst a sea of umbrellas and makeshift rain shelters. One woman used the plastic top of a grocery store sandwich tray and another wrapped one of those shiny, automobile sunshade around her shoulders.

It was billed as rally for Democratic candidates and several shared the stage with Clinton, including state Insurance Commissioner and lt. governor candidate John Garamendi along with state senator and Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen.

But unquestionably, the night belonged to congressional District 11 candidate Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton, a mathemetician who defied conventional political wisdom and now runs neck-and-neck in a Republican district with seven-term incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

Here he was standing in front of 1,000 people and the press shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the nation’s brightest and charismatic orators in modern political times.

McNerney has struggled to learn public speaking skills; he has described the prospect of delivering a speech as terrifying experience. And an editorial writer recently opined that McNerney had a “charisma deficit,” a harsh if not entirely inaccurate description.

“Yeah, he’s pretty nervous,” said a McNerney aide.

But McNerney delivered a perfectly adequate speech and even when he flubbed a few words, he laughed it off and the audience laughed with him. The evening ranks as one of the high points of McNerney’s campaign, a moment that could only be topped if he wins on Tuesday.

The audience, meanwhile, had no clue that the evening’s biggest potential disaster for McNerney was averted.

Just hours earlier, the campaign staff of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides put out press advisory saying he would appear at the Stockton rally, too.

That couldn’t have pleased the McNerney campaign staff, who had worked long and hard to persuade Clinton’s advance team to make the stop in Stockton on the former president’s way from San Francisco to Nevada, where he will campaign today.

This was McNerney’s chance to shine among voters who will decide whether he will go to Congress. The last thing he needed was a gubernatorial hopeful behind in the polls to hijack his event.

But a subsequent press advisory said Angelides would instead appear with Clinton and House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, at a fund-raiser at the Warfield in San Francisco earlier in the evening.

Inquiring minds want to know: Why was Angelides scrambling at the last minute for face-time with Clinton?

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Former President Clinton to campaign for McNerney tonight

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign with congressional District 11 Democratic nominee Jerry McNerney at a rally tonight in Stockton.

McNerney is running against incumbent GOP Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

McNerney will introduce Clinton at a Get out the Vote Rally for Democratic candidates for local, state, and federal office.

The rally will be held at the Stockton Jet Center, 6364 South Lindbergh St. in Stockton starting at 9 p.m.

To register for the rally, go to McNerney’s web site at www.jerrymcnerney.org.

CORRECTION: I was originally told that Clinton had never been to Stockton prior to this visit but I’ve learned visited in 1992.

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Holy moly II: Independent poll shows McNerney leading Pombo

A new poll shows congressional District 11 Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney beating incumbent Republican Richard Pombo by 2 percentage points: 48 to 46 percent.

The poll was conducted by a Majority Watch, a project of RT Strategies and Constituent Dynamics, and does not appear at first blush to be connected to either campaign.

Read the poll here.

The poll was conducted Oct. 24-26 with 983 likely voters and margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent points.

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Is that Bill Clinton on the other line?

We know the former prez is on our airwaves urging us to vote yes on Prop. 87, which taxes oil to pay for alternative energy.

But Clinton has also recorded a robocall for Congressional District 11, where he’ll urge residents to vote Democratic.

Campaign finance laws preclude him from mentioning Democratic nominee Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton by name.

But McNerney is the only Democrat on the ballot running against Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, so it won’t be tough to decipher the message.

Oh, and Clinton probably intends for folks to vote for all the Democrats on the ticket, particularly Phil Angelides, who trails GOP incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger.