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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…
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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 »

Bill Clinton to stump in Davis for House candidates

Former President Bill Clinton will visit the University of California at Davis tomorrow to give a boost to four Democratic House candidates fighting fierce battles here in Northern California.

Bill ClintonClinton, arguably now one of his party’s most beloved figures, will bring his vaunted rhetorical skills to bear on behalf of Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, who faces a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican, in the 3rd Congressional District; Dr. Ami Bera, the Elk Grove physician who’s challenging Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River in the 7th Congressional District; Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who faces a challenge from Republican Ricky Gill of Lodi in the 9th Congressional District; and Jose Hernandez, the former NASA astronaut challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, in the 10th Congressional District.

These races – especially Bera’s second attempt at unseating Lungren – have generated millions of dollars in advertising spending from the campaigns, national organizations, and super PACs. Clinton will headline a rally for the candidates Tuesday morning on UC Davis’ quad.

“Middle class Americans need champions in Congress who will fight for good American jobs, and who will put people before politics,” Clinton said in a statement issued Monday. “I’m proud to endorse four people who will do just that: John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Ami Bera, and Jose Hernandez. They’ve got fresh ideas to help restore the economy for middle class families, and they know Congress is a place for service, not personal gain.”

Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

House would-bes cast as youthful, inexperienced

Campaigns supporting two East Bay Democratic congressmen have launched new efforts attacking their challengers – one a Republican, the other a fellow Democrat – as too youthful and inexperienced to serve.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a “Ricky’s Real Resume” website to call attention to what it says are shortcomings on the part of Ricky Gill, 25, of Lodi, the Republican challenger to Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the 9th Congressional District.

“Ricky Gill is more qualified to be a congressional intern than a Congressman, and everything on his resume is an exaggeration at best,” DCCC spokeswoman Amber Moon said. “Gill has spent this entire campaign trying to sell himself to voters as a small business job creator among other things, but how can Ricky Gill talk about creating jobs when he’s never even had one?”

Gill’s campaign couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

UPDATE @ 12:40 A.M. SUNDAY: From Gill campaign spokesman Colin Hunter:

“Voters aren’t buying Jerry McNerney’s tired and misleading campaign attacks. The Stockton Record recently concluded that McNerney was making ‘false’ claims in his advertisements. This amateurish website is just more of the same.

“We’re happy to talk about experience in this campaign. McNerney’s experience includes voting for record-setting, trillion dollar deficits; taking contributions from the predatory lenders he bailed out; lying to voters about where he lives; and totally failing to defend our communities from the threat posed by Governor Brown’s peripheral tunnels.

“By contrast, Ricky actually has the experience of living in the district he seeks to represent; of serving with distinction on the State Board of Education; of volunteering his time at local hospitals and homeless shelters; and of working in agriculture and small business.”

Meanwhile, in the 15th Congressional District, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, has put out a new, t-ball-themed mailer painting his Democratic challenger, Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, as a “rookie” lacking the experience to take on Republicans in the next Congress:

Swalwell today replied that “sometimes calling up a rookie is the only way to replace a veteran sitting at the edge of the bench who can’t even find the field.”

“And last time I checked, my six years as a prosecutor and two years as a councilman is more public service experience than Pete Stark had in 1972 when he said the incumbent had been in office too long,” he added.

Posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

Two area Democrats OKed ‘No More Solyndras’ bill

Two Northern California House Democrats sided with House Republicans last week to pass a bill called the “No More Solyndras Act” to phase out the clean energy loan-guarantee program that bankrolled the now-defunct Fremont solar manufacturer.

Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, were among the 22 Democrats who joined with 223 House Republicans to vote in favor of H.R. 6213; they were the only California Democrats to do so. On the other side, 157 Democrats and four Republicans opposed the bill, which now is before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, praised the bill as ensuring “that taxpayers are no longer left holding the bag for the administration’s reckless investments. … The Obama administration may still regard the loan program that brought us Solyndra as an ‘enormous success,’ but the American people know better.”

Both McNerney and Garamendi are locked in tough re-election battles: McNerney, with Lodi Republican Ricky Gill; and Garamendi, with Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, also a Republican. Also, both voted for President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus package, which funded the loan-guarantee program among many other things; the program itself began during President George W. Bush’s administration.

“This program, like all government programs, needs to be reviewed and modified to address problems,” Garamendi said in a statement issued by a spokesman Friday. “I will continue my work to strengthen energy independence, create clean energy jobs, and Make It In America.”

McNerney last year had defended the loan-guarantee program.

“Solyndra certainly needs to be accounted for,” he had said in an interview. “But in order to develop new sources of energy we need to do research and development, and a well-supervised loan guarantee is one way to achieve that. I think there is a need for loan guarantees, especially considering what’s happening overseas.

McNerney had said it’s “not a good argument to say that the failure of one company is an indication that the whole industry has a problem. Moreover, oil, gas and coal companies have had government subsidies for 100 years or so, so I think it’s reasonable that renewable resources companies can look to the government for help both in research and in incentives.”

McNerney spokeswoman Lauren Smith on Saturday noted McNerney’s use of the phrase “well-supervised,” and said he made no endorsement of a program that lacks proper oversight and management.

“Congressman McNerney has always taken pride in being an independent voice and representing the people in our community,” she said. “With the people in Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties struggling in today’s economy, he felt compelled to vote for H.R. 6213 to ensure that their hard-earned tax dollars are spent in a responsible way with proper oversight and accountability. He understands what it’s like to be out of work and worried about money – and how every last dollar matters to most families in our region.”

As the Associated Press reported, Republicans have noted that three of the first five companies to get loan guarantees under the stimulus, including Solyndra, have gone bankrupt. But Democrats say Republicans are ignoring the Energy Department’s successes, including saving nearly 300 million gallons of gasoline a year by supporting such projects as one of the world’s largest wind farms in Oregon, a large solar generation project in California and a major photovoltaic solar power plant in Arizona.

Gill’s campaign is making hay of McNerney’s vote, noting McNerney had called green energy his “signature issue” during his initial run for the House in 2006.

“It turns out his signature was written in disappearing ink,” said Gill campaign consultant Kevin Spillane, accusing McNerney of “suddenly running away from the issue that defined his candidacy and his entire record in Congress — the advocacy of green energy, its supposedly endless economic potential, and the need for costly government incentives to promote its development.”

“Seems like McNerney’s true ‘signature issue’ is saving his political career,” Spillane said.

Smith replied this is “a blatant political attack… There is no credibility there.”

Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, economy, energy, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | No Comments »

Gill wants you to parse McNerney’s TARP votes

The campaign of Lodi Republican Ricky Gill – who’s taking on Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District – is up in arms about a claim made in pro-McNerney mailers sent out by the California Democratic Party.

Two CDP mailers, aiming to paint McNerney as a fiscal conservative, say he voted “NO to a $350 billion bailout because McNerney believes in responsible spending.”

But Gill’s campaign notes that the January 2009 vote to which that refers – on releasing the second half of the $700 billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program – was meaningless. As FactCheck.org explained two years ago:

As the law was structured, the treasury secretary (then Henry Paulson) had access to only $350 billion, half of the total package, at first. The second half would be available only if the administration went to Congress and asked for it. Treasury would get the money unless Congress said no. The first $350 billion of the TARP money was quickly spent.

By the time the Bush administration, at the request of President-elect Barack Obama, filed a request with the Senate for the rest of the money on Jan. 12, 2009, there were widespread complaints that too much of the first tranche had been used to bail out large institutions and not enough to help homeowners. The new funds could have been blocked had both houses of Congress voted to do so, but on Jan. 15, 2009, the Senate defeated a disapproval resolution, 52-42, effectively voting to release the funds. Treasury almost immediately announced it would use some of the money to shore up a deeply crippled Bank of America.

Where was the House in all this? Pretty much irrelevant. Eventually there was a similar vote in that body. … [I]t passed, 270-155. But the vote came on Jan. 22, a week after the Senate’s vote (and two days after Obama was sworn in). Treasury already had the money.

So the House vote was purely symbolic.

“The Democrats’ claim is doubly misleading because McNerney voted for TARP in the first place,” Gill spokesman Colin Hunter said in an email.

True, too – though it might be worth noting that the law creating TARP was proposed and signed by President George W. Bush, and approved by Congress with bipartisan support (including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and 90 other House Republicans). And also that TARP both worked and cost the taxpayers less than expected, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Ricky Gill wins Farm Bureau endorsement

Ricky Gill, the Lodi Republican challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, announced today that he’s been endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Ricky Gill“Ricky Gill has grown up in the Central Valley and has firsthand experience in small business, dealing with regulations and encouraging the expansion of trade to grow our economy and create local jobs,” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said in Gill’s release. “His family’s roots in agriculture have guided his life’s path, and he will make the needs of farmers and ranchers a priority as he represents his district in Washington.”

Wenger said Gill will be “an energetic advocate for his constituents and will support policies to help turn our economy around, to provide jobs and business opportunities for the next generation.”

Gill, 25, is the son of immigrants who are physicians but also own a 1,000-acre cherry farm and vineyard, an RV park and other business interests; he finished his Cal law degree earlier this year. He said he’s honored by the Farm Bureau’s endorsement: “I look forward to standing up for our farmers and ranchers so they can create jobs right here in the 9th District, where my family has been farming for 30 years.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation protects agricultural interests for more than 74,000 members statewide.

Would McNerney liked to have had this endorsement? Certainly.

Was he likely to get it? Some Democrats have won the California Farm Bureau Federation’s nod, including Dianne Feinstein, Mike Thompson and Jim Costa, but McNerney’s votes haven’t been so popular.

Is he lost without it? No. The Farm Bureau can be a powerful Central Valley force, but the 9th District isn’t its very strongest province: Stockton, entirely within the district, is urban and firmly Democratic. In the 2001 bipartisan gerrymander of the Central Valley, as Democrats sought to make then-Rep. Gary Condit’s seat safe for any Democrat except the ag-popular but scandal-ridden Condit, it was accomplished by redrawing the district to include Stockton. Farming interests are powerful in the district, but not all-powerful.

Posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Agriculture, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House, water | 2 Comments »

Obama, Romney, Biden & Ryan on 9/11

President Barack Obama, at the Pentagon (excerpt):

“This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn. Today, we can come here to the Pentagon, and touch these names and kneel beside a building where a single stone still bears the scars of that fire. We can visit the field of honor in Pennsylvania and remember the heroes who made it sacred. We can see water cascading into the footprints of the Twin Towers, and gaze up at a new tower rising above the New York skyline.

“And even though we may never be able to fully lift the burden carried by those left behind, we know that somewhere, a son is growing up with his father’s eyes, and a daughter has her mother’s laugh — living reminders that those who died are with us still.

“So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy who we are. No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

“That’s the commitment that we reaffirm today. And that’s why, when the history books are written, the true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before.”

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in a statement:

“Eleven years ago, evil descended upon our country, taking thousands of lives in an unspeakable attack against innocents. America will never forget those who perished. America will never stop caring for the loved ones they left behind. And America shall remain ever vigilant against those who would do us harm. Today we again extend our most profound gratitude to our brave troops who have gone into battle, some never to return, so that we may live in peace. On this most somber day, those who would attack us should know that we are united, one nation under God, in our determination to stop them and to stand tall for peace and freedom at home and across the world.”

Vice President Joe Biden, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. (excerpt):

“My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him. For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.

“I also hope — I also hope it continues to give you some solace knowing that this nation, all these people gathered here today, who are not family members, all your neighbors, that they’ve not forgotten. They’ve not forgotten the heroism of your husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. And that what they did for this country is still etched in the minds of not only you, but millions of Americans, forever. That’s why it’s so important that this memorial be preserved and go on for our children and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and our great-great-grandchildren — because it is what makes it so exceptional. And I think they all appreciate, as I do, more than they can tell you, the incredible bravery your family members showed on that day.”

Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., in a statement:

“Eleven years ago today, from Capitol Hill, I could see the smoke rising from the fires burning in the Pentagon. Like all Americans, I will never forget the moment that our homeland came under attack. For me, this is a day to remember those who perished on that day of terror, including the first responders. It is also a day to pay tribute to all those who have worked quietly and tirelessly both on the home front and abroad to prevent a repetition of such terrible events. And it is a day to give honor to those in our military who have sacrificed so much, including their lives, for the same end. Their courage and heroism and willingness to answer the call of duty have kept America safe and strong and free. We are truly the home of the brave.”

See what some Bay Area members of Congress have been tweeting about today’s anniversary, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Zoe Lofgren | 4 Comments »

Ricky Gill launches first general-election TV ad

Ricky Gill, the Lodi Republican challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, has launched his first television ad of the general-election season:

Gill campaign spokesman Colin Hunter said Monday that the ad is running on network TV in the Sacramento market and cable systems in the Delta; he declined to say how much was spent on the ad buy.

“The stars of this ad are the local citizens who came out to stand up for their community,” Gill said in a news release. “Our campaign isn’t about party or ideology – it’s about uniting and empowering the community we proudly call home.”

Gill’s campaign said the ad draws upon a 2011 book in which McNerney argued that “morality” and “patriotism” require imposing immediate, across-the-board energy taxes. The campaign says the Congressional Budget Office has concluded those taxes “would impose the largest loss in purchasing power on households near the middle of the income distribution.”

“Jerry McNerney’s interjection of terms like ‘morality’ and ‘patriotism’ to push for higher energy taxes on middle-class families underscores how ideological he really is,” d Gill consultant James Fisfis said in the news release. “McNerney isn’t just pushing a higher gas tax – he literally wrote the book on it.”

Asked to respond to the ad, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Amber Moon on Monday cited an Associated Press story from April which reported that Gill’s father gave $2,000 to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign during the 2003 gubernatorial recall election – one year before Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed Gill to the state Board of Education. The elder Gill also gave $5,000 to Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election campaign, the article reported.

“Wherever Ricky Gill goes, his parents’ money follows,” Moon said Monday. “Gill’s father gave campaign donations to Governor Schwarzenegger and Ricky Gill was appointed as the student representative on the State Board of Education. Ricky Gill continues to inflate his resume to cover up the fact that he has never even held a full-time job.”

Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Ricky Gill’s speech to the GOP convention

Here’s what Ricky Gill, the Republican from Lodi who’s challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, had to say just now at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.:

My name is Ricky Gill, and I am humbled to stand before you as a Republican nominee for Congress – and a proud son of California’s San Joaquin Valley.

My parents immigrated to the Valley from India and Africa with only their love for each other, a strong work ethic, and the enduring desire to pursue their American Dream.
We all work hard in the Valley, and we’re proud to live there. But today we face crippling unemployment and foreclosures—even the bankruptcy of Stockton, our largest city. Young people leave — or drop out of school to help their families make ends meet. Our friends and neighbors are suffering.

But the Valley is a cautionary tale of failed policies, not false ambitions. No one in this country dreams of dependency; no one hopes for mediocrity. We are ready again to seize the measure of our ambitions – not because the government says we can, but because we believe we can.

We need a new generation of leadership to chart the path – to fight for policies that create jobs, rather than red tape — and to help small businesses succeed, rather than helping green energy companies fail.

Like you, we Valley folks are tough, independent, and faithful – and we are ready to rebuild our American Dream.

Thank you, and God Bless America.

Looking over the convention’s schedule, it may be that Gill and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are the only speakers from the greater Bay Area who’ll be addressing the convention this week.

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 8 Comments »