CD11: Harmer headed toward victory



UPDATE 12:53 A.M. Nearly 90 percent of precincts have been reported and Harmer has won his party’s nomination. He received 35.7 percent of the vote, followed by Goehring at 28.8 percent, Amador at 19.1 percent and Emken at 16.4 percent.

With just under half the precincts reporting, GOP primary Congressional District 11 candidate David Harmer, an attorney from Dougherty Valley, leads the pack with a 6 percentage point margin.

It’s not an entirely insurmountable gap for Lodi-area farmer Brad Goehring, who is in second place. Goehring’s home county, San Joaquin, still has about half of its precincts outstanding. But Goehring trails badly in the district’s three Bay Area counties and would have to win most of what remains uncounted at home in order to prevail.

Goehring largely ignored the Bay Area half of the district and placed his bets on a big win in San Joaquin County that failed to carry him over the top.  He also appeared to have run out of money; he had repeatedly loaned his campaign and repaid himself tens of thousands of dollars.

In contrast, Harmer launched a major ground and mail campaign in San Joaquin County. His campaign said volunteers made 12,000 phone calls just today and during the campaign, they walked nearly half of the precincts in San Joaquin County.

Harmer was in second place in San Joaquin but he held substantial leads in Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Retired U.S. Marshal Tony Amador, despite his popular job title, and autism activist Elizabeth Emken of Danville lagged behind with 19 and 17 percent of the vote respectively.


CD11: Harmer fires back on Emken





GOP 11th Congressional District primary candidate David Harmer has answered an opponent’s nasty mailer with a trio of his own fliers, a clear departure from his repeated vows to avoid negative campaigning.

Harmer targeted Elizabeth Emken, a former autism advocate from Danville, in three mailers that contain — just as hers did — a mix of truth and distortion. (See one of the mailers at the bottom of this post.)

The mailer earned Harmer, a Dougherty Valley attorney, a sharp and unusual public rebuke from Frank Aquila, leader of the South San Joaquin County Republican Club.  (FYI, this is not an official GOP central committee but a group formed by Aquila.)

“While each candidate has the right to attack another for positions on particular issues, I am disturbed and disappointed in a recent mailer put out by the Harmer campaign against Elizabeth Emken,” Aquila wrote in his e-mail newsletter. “The Harmer mailer says Elizabeth Emken is falsely attacking David Harmer; but the mailing itself is, in fact, a false attack against Elizabeth Emken.”

Aquila refers specifically to the prominent use of logos of the California Republican Assembly and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which implies that these groups produced or sanctioned the mailers.

Both groups have endorsed Harmer but his campaign paid for the mailers.

Here is a sample of other assertions in the mailers and their veracity:

What it says: Emken “attack(ed) opponent’s religion.”

Is it true? It depends on your definition of “attack.”

Two Emken mailers included images of an article in the Mormon Times about Harmer’s plan to enter the race. The article also contained statements about how Harmer was inspired to run by “the Spirit” and references to a revered Mormon religious figure, Captain Moroni.

Harmer’s campaign called it an intentional act designed to highlight his religion.
Emken denied it. It is Harmer, she said, who is displaying religious intolerance through his “baseless accusation.”

“David Harmer’s decision to inject religion into this race by clearly distorting my mail piece is the low point of this campaign,” she said. “I quoted a reputable news source, providing evidence of Harmer’s carpetbagging ambition to run in a district he doesn’t live in, almost immediately after losing in the district next door.”

What it says: “Emken is a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who spent much of her career fighting for government health care mandates and government health care funding.”

Is it true? Yes although her focus was solely on autism.
Emken was a registered lobbyist for Autism Speaks, a not-for-profit group that advocates for greater awareness and treatment of children and adults with autism.

As its lobbyist, Emken successfully advocated for the passage of the 2000 Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act and the 2006 Combating Autism Act, which dedicated $1 billion in the federal budget over five years for autism research and education.

She also worked to pass legislation in 15 states including Florida and Pennsylvania that bar insurance company discrimination against certain autism treatments and boosted government spending on autism intervention programs.

What it says: “ … Emken worked to pass portions of the ObamaCare health care takeover and her organization praised ObamaCare’s passage.”

Is it true? Yes. Emken successfully lobbied for an amendment to the recently adopted health care legislation that banned insurance company discrimination against autism treatments.

Autism Now applauded the passage of the health care bill on its Web site.
Emken, however, has consistently opposed the legislative package during her campaign and has said would work to repeal it even if it means reversal of her amendment.

What it says: “Washington, D.C., special interests are funding Elizabeth Emken’s attacks …” It also calls her a “Washington insider.”

Is it true? It depends on what you consider a special interest and an insider.

As of March 31, 66 percent of her contributions had come from outside California, compared with 8.6 percent for Harmer. Those percentages may have changed since the last reporting period, but our tech is still working on loading the newest numbers into our database.)

As for the insider tag, if an insider is an incumbent, none of the four GOP primary candidates qualify. If an insider is a person who has worked or lobbied in Washington, D.C., then all four earned the title.

Harmer worked for a U.S. Senate committee, a member of Congress and conservative think tanks in Washington, D.C. Former U.S. Marshal Tony Amador held a Washington, D.C.-based assignment. And Brad Goehring, a Lodi area farmer, is the California Farm Bureau’s national spokesman on several issues.

What it says: Quotes her saying, “There may have to be a federal mandate to achieve necessary reform.”

Is it true? Yes, she said it, but it lacks context. Emken made the statement in the New York Daily News. It refers specifically to her drive to end insurance company discrimination against some treatments of children with autism.

Here is one of the mailers:


CD11: Amador claims the high road

Congressional District 11 primary candidate Tony Amador is claiming the high road in his latest mail piece, which should hit mailboxes starting today.

With two of his three opponents, David Harmer and Elizabeth Emken, trading barbs (more about that later), Amador sees a chance to distinguish himself from all the nastiness.

I guess Amador forgot about the eight-page broadsheet he funded through The People’s Advocate, where he called all his opponents hypocrites.

He blasted Emken for her role as a paid advocate for increased federal spending on autism research and insurance regulations. He slapped Harmer around for running in a district in which he does not live and doing it after Harmer criticized his former opponent in the 10th District, now Rep. John Garamendi, for not living in that district. And Amador accused Brad Goehring of talking tough on immigration while relying on immigrant labor in his agricultural operations.

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CD11: Pombo endorses Goehring





Former GOP Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy has endorsed Clements winegrape grower Brad Goehring in the four-way 11th Congressional District Republican primary.

Pombo’s endorsement comes as no big surprise. They share similar conservative views on environmental issues and both come from agricultural backgrounds. Pombo helped Goehring fight the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a dispute over a wetlands permit. And Pombo’s campaign manager, Carl Fogliani, ran Pombo’s unsuccessful 2006 campaign.

But the timing is curious.

Why so late in the election? I suspect there was considerable debate over whether Pombo’s endorsement will help or hurt Goehring. Pombo’s high-profile loss four years ago, coupled with the significant damage environmental groups inflicted on his candidacy, splintered his GOP support.

History is one thing. The present has its own issues.

Goehring is running as the candidate with the deepest roots in the 11th District, a fourth-generation farmer whose family immigrated from Germany in the early 1900s. He views two of his opponents as opportunistic carpet-baggers who just moved into the district (Tony Amador) or don’t even live in the district (David Harmer.)

But like Harmer, Pombo is also running for Congress in a district in which he does not live. Pombo is locked in a a four-man congressional contest to succeed retiring Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, in the 19th district.

We’ll see soon enough if roots and residency matter with voters.


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.


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.

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