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Which local House members are targets in 2014?

With House elections only a month behind us, eyes are already turning toward the 2014 election’s landscape.

The fine folks at renowned political prognosticator Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” have tagged several Northern California House members as potentially vulnerable in 2014:

For Republicans, they might take fresh shots against Rep.-elects Scott Peters (D), Ami Bera (D) and Raul Ruiz (D), who all defeated Republican incumbents in razor-thin races. They may have some other opportunities across the state, particularly if some unsuccessful but promising 2012 challengers — Ricky Gill (against Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney) and Kim Vann (against Democratic Rep. John Garamendi), among others, decide to mount rematches.

The difficulty for Republican candidates in California, though, is that their statewide party is in rump status, akin to Democrats in Texas — and, unlike demographics in Texas (which might very slowly move in the Democrats’ direction), demographics in California provide little hope to resuscitate the California GOP.

The article also notes the potential for a fight in the 10th Congressional District, where Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, beat back a challenge this year from former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez, a Democrat from Stockton. “Hernandez is openly considering a repeat run, although he might wait until 2016 — a clear indication that he understands the turnout problems Democrats have in midterm elections.”

Meanwhile, Rep.-elect Eric Swalwell – the Dublin Democrat who unseated 20-term Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, last month – today tells Roll Call exactly what we reported right after Election Day: that it’s never too soon to consider who’ll be coming at you two years hence.

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Under: Ami Bera, Eric Swalwell, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Act now for tickets to Obama’s re-inauguration

Bay Area members of Congress are offering their constituents chances to win free tickets to President Barack Obama’s re-inauguration Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., but one lawmaker wants applicants to sing for their supper.

“Please write a paragraph of at least 5 sentences, submit a video, or draw a picture suggesting an innovative idea either to put Americans back to work, or ensure that each and every child has access to a quality education,” Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, asks 17th Congressional District constituents seeking tickets.

Entries (only one per person) must be posted as responses on the congressman’s Facebook page by Thursday, Jan. 3.

Other local members are doing it on a more straightforward lottery basis; you can apply only through your own House member, or through either of California’s U.S. Senators.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield: Call 202-225-1880

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa: Email here or call 202-225-3311 or 707-226-9898

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton: Call 202-225-1947 or 209-476-8552

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez: Apply here

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: Call 202-225-4965

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: Apply here

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo: deadline already passed

Rep.-elect Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: available in January

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: deadline already passed

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: Call 202-225-3072

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz: Join stand-by list here

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif: Apply here

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.: Apply here

If leaving a voice-mail message, be sure to include your full name, address, city, phone number, e-mail address and number of tickets requested.

Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Your state and Bay Area House-race roundup

All in all, it was a dismal night for Republicans in California House races.

Of the 11 California House races deemed competitive by the renowned Cook Political Report, Democrats won seven outright and are on top in two too-close-to-call other races. Another way of slicing and dicing it: All of the three endangered Democratic incumbents in these races won re-election, but only one of the four Republicans might’ve. And of the new or open seats, Democrats won three of the four.

More specifically:

    The battles to unseat Reps. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, remain too close to call with some mail-in and provisional ballots yet to be counted, but both trail their Democratic challengers by narrow margins.
    Reps. Jerry McNerney; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; and Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara all turned away their Republican challengers to win re-election. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, is the only Republican incumbent definitely left standing in these competitive races.

Not than anyone considered it competitive, but Democrat Jared Huffman trounced Republican Dan Roberts to succeed Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-San Rafael, in the North Bay’s newly drawn 2nd Congressional District, which reaches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

In the Bay Area, as usual, the only question for most Democratic incumbents (with the exception, of course, of Pete Stark) was by how enormous a margin they would dispatch their challengers. See how that all stacks up as of this hour, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Dan Lungren, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 7 Comments »

3 things for the GOP to consider in California

1.) Learn to choose better battles.

Every cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee tells us that Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is among the nation’s most vulnerable House Democrats; every cycle, he proves otherwise. In 2008, with a 1-point voter registration disadvantage, he won by 10 percentage points; in 2010, with a .32-point voter-registration disadvantage, he won by 1.1 percentage points; and this year, with a 12-point voter-registration edge, he won by 8 percentage points. Instead of pouring resources into the campaign of a 25-year-old with no job experience, perhaps the GOP should’ve looked for greener pastures.

2.) Your navel-gazing is near-sighted.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro’s statement last night indicates he believes Romney and Republicans failed to “make the case, at every level, for tax reform and to successfully articulate that a welfare state can’t succeed and the true engine of growth is a vigorous free enterprise system.” I’m sure some Democrats will disagree with the philosophical underpinnings of that argument, and that’s not a debate I’ll get into here. But what Del Beccaro failed to address was that the GOP clearly lost big among Latinos, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and young voters – that is, most of this nation’s future electorate. If his party can’t find platform that appeals to these blocs, and an effective way of explaining it to them, it’ll continue to wane even further. Already I see some GOPers sniffing that Obama won without a mandate, but the fact is, he won the popular vote by at least about 2.7 million and – if Florida were to stop counting votes now (and where have I heard THAT before?) – he’d win there too, meaning he carried every battleground state except North Carolina.

3.) Who has the mandate?

Gov. Jerry Brown has the mandate. He won it in 2010 when he beat out the candidate who spent a record $142 million of her money to no avail. He won it again last night with a resounding 8-point victory for Prop. 30, his tax hike for K-12 and higher education. And it seems voters are tired enough of gridlock in Sacramento that they may have handed Democrats two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature – another mandate, of sorts, for Brown’s agenda. The moral of this story: Don’t mess with Jerry.

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 presidential election, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Ricky Gill’s mom pushed patients for votes

Lodi Memorial Hospital’s CEO had to tell Republican congressional candidate Ricky Gill’s mother to lay off soliciting votes or campaign donations from patients.

Gill’s mother, Dr. Parampal Gill, is a prominent obstetrician in San Joaquin County; Gill is challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the 9th Congressional District.

A former hospital employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she was one of those who complained to hospital administrators.

“She handed out her son’s cards at Lodi Memorial Hospital, and she even would go as far as to say things to them like, ‘I delivered you a beautiful baby and in return I want four votes,’” the former staffer said. “The hospital has a no-soliciting policy which I assume extends to physicians… I was offended for and on behalf of patients.”

“Our CEO did have a conversation with Dr. Gill about this and it came about because we had a staffer bring to our attention that she heard Dr. Gill saying something like this to a patient,” hospital spokeswoman Carol Farron confirmed this week. “We have had no complaints from patients themselves, however a staffer did bring it to our attention and it’s our policy and our practice if a staffer brings a concern like this to our attention that we would speak to any of the parties involved and just caution them that it’s not appropriate behavior. Because we didn’t have any direct patient complaints, that’s as far as we took it.”

The hospital’s vice president of nursing also spoke with Dr. Gill about the verbal solicitations, Farron said.

“Dr. Gill has a right to advocate for her son, just like any mother would,” Gill campaign spokesman Colin Hunter said today.

Jennifer Simoes, chief of legislation at the Medical Board of California, said things like handing out campaign literature or soliciting votes wouldn’t be actionable by the board, which deals with Medical Practice Act and quality-of-care violations.

“However, absent permission of the patient, using information from patient’s medical records for anything other than the care and treatment of the patient, is something that the Board would look into if we were to receive a complaint,” she said. “The Board would look at the facts of each individual case to determine if there was a violation.”

Molly Weedn, spokeswoman for the California Medical Association, said a physician who provided patient information to a campaign most likely would be violating privacy rules in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. But “if the physician was using the information to reach out to a patient on his/her own, then it wouldn’t be considered a violation,” she said.

Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 24 Comments »

MC Hammer to get out vote for Jerry McNerney

Hammer pantsCapping our day of entertainment-themed weirdness (East Coast looks like “The Day After Tomorrow!” Disney buys Lucasfilm, will make “Star Wars Ep. VII!” ABC to make Oakland “City Hall” drama!) comes this tidbit: singer and artist MC Hammer (nee Stanley Burrell) will help lead a canvass on Monday in Stockton in support of Rep. Jerry McNerney and Stockton City Council candidate Michael Tubbs.

Hammer, 50, lives in Tracy, which actually is just outside the 9th Congressional District in which McNerney, D-Stockton, is seeking re-election.

As when Hammer lent his skills to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign, this raises some questions: Is McNerney actually too legit to quit? Can Ricky Gill not touch this? Which candidate needs to pray just to make it Tuesday?

We’ll know soon enough.

Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Fact-checking new ads in CA9 McNerney-Gill race

Here’s the latest ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee attacking Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton:

The bill to which this ad refers is HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House approved June 26, 2009 on a 219-212 vote; the bill later died in the U.S. Senate. The bill proposed a cap-and-trade system in which the government would limit the total amount of greenhouse gases that could be emitted nationally.

The bill did not impose an “energy tax” directly on Americans. Some opponents claimed it would raise energy costs, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded the cost would be negligible for most and some poorer households would actually gain:

(T)he net annual economy-wide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion—or about $175 per household. That figure includes the cost of restructuring the production and use of energy and of payments made to foreign entities under the program, but it does not include the economic benefits and other benefits of the reduction in GHG emissions and the associated slowing of climate change. CBO could not determine the incidence of certain pieces (including both costs and benefits) that represent, on net, about 8 percent of the total. For the remaining portion of the net cost, households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020, while households in the highest income quintile would see a net cost of $245. Added costs for households in the second lowest quintile would be about $40 that year; in the middle quintile, about $235; and in the fourth quintile, about $340. Overall net costs would average 0.2 percent of households’ after-tax income.

The American Petroleum Institute had estimated the bill would raise gas prices by 77 cents per gallon, but the Environmental Protection Agency estimated the increases in gas prices would amount to less than 2 cents per year over the next two decades.

Among many other provisions, the bill included a low-income energy tax credit program to offset any impact of higher energy prices; an energy rebate to reach families who don’t make enough to file tax returns; and a $4-billion, one-year program providing vouchers for the purchase or lease of a new car or truck to those who trade in an eligible vehicle for one that’s more fuel efficient.

The bill was widely supported by environmental organizations, but actually split the business community somewhat: Supporters included General Electric, Dow Chemical, Pacific Gas and Electric, Ford Motor Co. and DuPont, while opponents included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Here’s the latest ad that McNerney is running against his Republican challenger, Ricky Gill:

“Ricky Gill never held a full-time job.” – Gill has held various summer jobs and internships, but has had no full-time job other than being a partner in his parents’ farming and RV park businesses, where his duties have been unclear. Gill graduated from law school in May, but hasn’t taken the California State Bar exam and so can’t practice law yet.

“He has an allowance from his parents.” – Gill’s personal financial disclosure says he received $10,000 in salary in 2010 (while in law school) from CVR Management of Lodi, a company registered to two of his brothers, not his parents. I’m pretty sure it was the California Democratic Party which first called this “an allowance.”

“Gill Family: $40,000 in unpaid taxes and liens” – The McNerney campaign provided me a 27-page PDF of lien records (summary pages 1 and 2) culled from the Sacramento and San Joaquin county recorders’ offices, detailing various liens from 1985 through 2011 for state and county taxes, delinquent utility charges, and contractors’ services.

“Gill Family: $165,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidies” – McNerney’s campaign provided this breakdown:

  • Gill-Chabra Farms: $43,531, including $35,892 in disaster subsidies in 2004-2005 and $7,639 in commodity subsidies from 1996 through 2001
  • Jasbir Gill: $19,314 in disaster subsidies in 2004
  • Jasbir Gill Family LP: $36,997 in disaster subsidies in 2005
  • Gill Vineyards LLC: $65,465 in 2001 in disaster subsidies
  • Gill’s campaign spokesman told the Associated Press earlier this year that the disaster subsidies were to offset crop problems affecting the family’s wine grapes.

    “Jerry McNerney: Opposed $350 billion bailout”As I reported here a month ago, he opposed it after it had already happened, essentially a completely symbolic vote. But he had voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in the first place, as had 91 House Republicans including now-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

    UPDATE @ 2:12 P.M.: Gill’s campaign notes that I didn’t fact-check McNerney’s description of himself as “a real small businessman;” his financial disclosures indicate he resigned as CEO of Hawt Power in 2006, and mentioned no income from any business in 2011.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
    Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

    3rd quarter fundraising reports for House races

    Yesterday was the deadline for House candidates to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission for the third quarter of 2012, July 1 through Sept. 30. Here’s what’s happening in some of Northern California’s more interesting races:

    3rd Congressional District
    Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, raised $448,758 and spent $518,327 during 2012’s third quarter, and had $162,452 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $93,947 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $68,505 unencumbered. Republican challenger Kim Vann of Arbuckle raised $410,369 and spent $491,005 in the third quarter, and had $156,862 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $52,514 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $104,347 unencumbered.

    7th Congressional District
    Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, raised $507,383 and spent $436,323 during the third quarter, and had $1,229,226 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $23,743 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $1,205,483 unencumbered. Democratic challenger Ami Bera of Elk Grove raised $731,002 and spent $1,665,117 during the third quarter, and had $402,609 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $256,454 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $146,155 unencumbered. So while Bera outspent Lungren by almost four-to-one in July through September, Lungren had eight times as much money to spend heading into the campaign’s final weeks.

    9th Congressional District
    Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, raised $523,483 and spent $558,723 in the third quarter, and had $1,037,825 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $5,294 in outstanding debts and obligations. He was outmatched by Republican challenger Ricky Gill of Lodi: Gill raised $722,729 and spent $601,445 in the third quarter, and had $1,145,983 cash on hand as of Sept. 30. But counting Gill’s $153,222 in outstanding debts and obligations, McNerney had a slight edge in unencumbered money to spend going into the contest’s home stretch.

    10th Congressional District
    Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, raised $314,288 and spent $813,223 in the third quarter, and had $752,864 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $16,358 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $736,506 unencumbered. Democratic challenger Jose Hernandez of Stockton raised $490,922 and spent $679,746 in the third quarter, and had $269,644 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $24,893 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $244,751 unencumbered. So, Denham had a half-million dollar edge going into the campaign’s final weeks.

    15th Congressional District
    Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, raised $266,871 and spent $202,712 in the third quarter, and had $537,749 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with no outstanding debts and obligations. Democratic challenger Eric Swalwell of Dublin raised $233,537 and spent $151,894 in the third quarter, and had $161,117 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with no outstanding debts and obligations. That’s a better than three-to-one cash advantage the incumbent had over his Democratic insurgent challenger heading into the campaign’s final weeks.

    It’s important to note that these numbers don’t tell the whole story in the 3rd, 7th, 9th and 10th Districts, where partisan committees and various super PACs are spending a great deal of money to buy copious ad time on their candidates’ behalf.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
    Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

    Full report on the CA9 McNerney-Gill debate

    Delta water issues, agriculture and the economy were at the fore as Rep. Jerry McNerney and Republican challenger Ricky Gill of Lodi met for their only general-election debate Monday night.

    The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County, attracted a capacity crowd of 350 in the University of the Pacific’s Long Theater, with up to 150 more watching from an overflow room in a nearby building.

    McNerney, D-Stockton, opened by noting his six years in Congress were preceded by 20 years in industry, including some time running his own business, but his public service was inspired by his son’s decision to join the Air Force soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He said his priorities for the next term would be creating jobs and improving the local economy; protecing the Delta; and serving veterans.

    “We face a crippling level of underrepresentation in this district,” Gill countered in his opening statement, which has led to a stagnant economy, a rampant foreclosure crisis, failing schools and other ills. He said he would spend his first term striving to put local residents back to work, fixing schools and cleaning up government.

    Asked about veterans’ services, McNerney noted he helped bring a veterans’ hospital to the county, for which ground is to be broken next year; he said it’s part of what he feels is “a sacred responsibility” to care for those who took up arms to serve the nation. Gill said he agrees budgets can’t be balanced on veterans’ backs, and he would work to expedite funding for the veterans hospital as well as to speed up the processing of veterans’ benefit claims.

    Asked about the foreclosure crisis, Gill noted he has vowed not to accept any money from Wall Street banks, while McNerney has accepted such funds. McNerney said he has been aggressive in holding local workshops for those stricken by the crisis and in holding banks accountable on Capitol Hill.

    Asked about the negative campaign mailers both candidates have sent out, McNerney decline to apologize for anything that’s been said but noted the corrosive influence of money from special interests outside the district is “taking away the people’s voice.” He said he has supported the Disclose Act to shine a light on that money, and supports President Obama’s re-election so Obama can appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn the Citizens United ruling that opened the money floodgates; he said he also supports amending the Constitution to void that ruling. Gill said people are worried not only about money in politics but where that money comes from, noting much of McNerney’s campaign funding comes from outside the district; he also noted a few falsehoods contained in McNerney’s mailers, such as a claim that he still lives with his parents – in reality, he moved out last year, into a home across the road from his parents’ home on the family’s property.

    A whole heck of a lot more, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012
    Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

    Fact-checking the new McNerney & Gill ads in CA9

    The advertising war rolls on in the 9th Congressional District, where Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is challenged by Republican Ricky Gill of Lodi.

    Here’s McNerney’s newest ad:

    It takes some pretty tortured logic to conclude that Gill’s adherence to the Americans for Tax Reform pledge amounts to support for companies that outsource jobs – so tortured, in fact, that nonpartisan fact-checkers such as FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com long ago deemed the claim false.

    Here’s Gill’s newest ad:

    McNerney voted for the economic stimulus of 2009, but had nothing to do with the Obama Administration’s selection of Solyndra for the loan guarantee – under a program begun by the Bush Administration – on which it later defaulted. Also, if Gill blames McNerney and Democrats for the Wall Street bailout, he also should blame the 91 House Republicans – including now-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio – who voted for it too. And pinning national problems like a stagnant economy, soaring gas and health care prices and the national debt on one congressman’s “experience” seems like a stretch; there’s plenty of blame to go around, on both sides of the aisle.

    Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
    Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 3 Comments »