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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
20

CD11: Harmer speaks out but no concession yet

Harmer

Harmer

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.

11

CD11: McNerney officially wins re-election

McNerney

McNerney

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, www.cocovote.us.

19

CD11: Harmer attends freshman orientation

Harmer

Harmer

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.

36

CD11 is a nail-biter

McNerney

McNerney

Harmer

Harmer

Early this morning, Rep. Jerry McNerney had squeaked out a 121-vote lead over GOP nominee David Harmer in the 11th Congressional District, but no one is celebrating or packing up their campaign offices yet.

Thousands of votes remain uncounted in the four counties within District 11, and Contra Costa and San Joaquin election officials, the largest voter contingent within the district, say they don’t expect to post their next round of updated vote counts until late this week and next week. (UPDATE: Contra Costa says it will have one round of updates on Friday, and another next week. Other counties have similar plans.) Nov. 12.

Why are there uncounted votes?

Election officials typically stop counting vote-by-mail ballots a day or two before Election Day in order to prepare for precinct operations. When the Election Day tallies are done, they process the vote-by-mail ballots that arrived in the mail over the weekend, Monday and Tuesday plus the VBMs dropped off at the polls on Election Day.

With the growing numbers of VBM voters and their tendency to drop them off at the polls, it drives up processing time. VBM ballots must be checked for valid signatures, stripped from their envelopes, manually rolled to remove the tri-fold creases and hand-fed into scanners. It takes a lot longer to count VBM ballots than the ballots filled out at precincts, which are fed directly into optical scanners.

I talked with Harmer and McNerney today and both sides have reasons for optimism.

For McNerney, it was clear that Election Day voters broke in the Democrat’s direction. Harmer was leading by 3 or more percentage points after the first wave of early vote-by-mail ballot counts were posted.

That gap slowly closed as Election Day counts emerged.  If the trend continues as election official count the remaining ballots, McNerney’s lead could expand and he could keep his seat. Democrats poured wads of cash into anti-Harmer ads in the 11th District in the final week, which probably spurred their voters to show up at the polls.

On the other hand, Harmer did well among early VBM voters, and it is possible that he could recover his equilibrium among the later VBM voters, particularly in San Joaquin County. Harmer held a 5 percentage point lead in San Joaquin, where 53.9 percent of District 11 voters live.

Here’s a county-by-county breakdown of the votes as of this morning, keeping in mind that all four counties still have significant numbers of uncounted ballots:

ALAMEDA COUNTY (15.5 percent of District 11 voters)

  • Harmer: 42.7 percent, 11,679 votes
  • McNerney: 57.3 percent, 15,688 votes
  • GAP: 14.6 percent, or 4,009 votes, in McNerney’s favor

CONTRA COSTA (24.6 percent of District 11 voters)

  • Harmer: 50.4 percent, 19.871 votes
  • McNerney: 49.6 percent, 19,539 percent
  • GAP: 0.8 points, or 332 votes, in Harmer’s favor

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (53.9 percent of District 11 voters)

  • Harmer: 52.5 percent, 45,958 votes
  • McNerney: 47.5 percent, 41,612 votes
  • GAP: 5 points, or 4,436 votes, in Harmer’s favor

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (5.9 percent of District 11 voters)

  • Harmer: 46 percent, 4,495 votes
  • McNerney: 54 percent, 5,285 votes
  • GAP: 8.1 points, or 790 votes, in McNerney’s favor

The other big question folks are asking about District 11 is whether or not there will be a recount.

It depends.

Contrary to what people seem to think, California has no automatic recount trigger mechanism.

Any voter may request a recount within five calendar days after the certification of the final election results but he or she must pay for it.  A county election officer may also conduct a recount  at taxpayer’s expense if the official has reason to believe that a mechanical error or some other processing mistake has led to incorrect results.

Typically, a voter requests a recount on behalf of a candidate, who foots the bill. Alameda County,  for example, requires a $5,000 deposit and can charge up to $1,500 a day depending on the type of recount requested. A hand recount costs more than a simple re-scan of ballots.

If the count is close, it’s possible that the candidate on the losing side of the final number will seek a recount.

Some folks confuse a this type of recount with the mandatory, 1 percent audit of election returns required of every county election office by the state. But these audits consist of a reconciliation of machine counts with paper ballots on 1 percent of the county’s entire rate of return. It is not race-specific. If the audit reveals discrepancies, the county elections office may boost the audit to 5 or 10 percent of returns in order to find the source of the problem, but that rarely happens, says East Bay election officials.

If you are curious about California Election Code provisions for recounts, click here and read Chapter 9 starting with Section 15600.

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CD11: Get ready for some politics

The weekend blitz is about to begin in the 11th Congressional District as the forces of Democratic incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney and GOP nominee David Harmer converge on the district.

This is one of 50 or more congressional seats in the country that could flip parties and put the GOP in charge of the House of Representatives, and both sides can taste victory.

Your doorbell may ring. Your mailbox will fill up. Your doorknob may be festooned. A candidate or his proxy may show up at your house. And your radio and TV stations will blare with the latest advertising, much of it featuring wildly distorted and unreliable information.

California unions are gearing up for major precinct work this weekend as they push to get Democrats to the polls in support of their candidates from the top of the ticket on down to the local races.

Outside groups are still spending big in the 11th District, too. By far, the largest cash infusion is into the anti-Harmer campaign. Here’s how it broke down as of this afternoon:

  • Oppose Harmer: $1.3 million
  • Support Harmer: $66,905
  • Oppose McNerney: $458,910
  • Support McNerney: $140,899

Here’s a list of the organizations, the political leanings and what they have spent:

  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, liberal: $1,031,191
  • National Republican Congressional Committee, conservative: $357,842
  • American Federation Of State County And Municipal Employees AFL-CIO, liberal: $149,999
  • America’s Families First Action Fund 149,999
  • Club For Growth Action, conservative: $65,224
  • Defenders Of Wildlife Action Fund, liberal: $58,492
  • Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte, liberal: $47,911
  • National Rifle Association Of America Political Victory Fund, conservative: $47,577
  • Americans For Limited Government, conservative: $27,470
  • America Votes, conservative: $26,822
  • League Of Conservation Voters, Inc., liberal: $24,759
  • Republican Majority Campaign, conservative: $10,773
  • Humane Society Legislative Fund, liberal: $9,736
  • Susan B Anthony List Inc., conservative anti-abortion group: $5,924
  • National Right To Life Political Action Committee, conservative: $5,372
  • Freedomworks Inc. Political Action Committee, conservative: $3,107
  • Revere America, conservative: $2,526

If you want to check the FEC independent expenditures over the weekend, visit this web site, click on “customize” and enter the candidate’s name.