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East Bay political round-up

Here’s a look at upcoming political events and happenings around the East Bay:

Walnut Creek

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will host a town hall Monday in Walnut Creek to talk about proposed Republican changes to Medicare.

The GOP, which holds majority control of the House of Representatives, seeks to convert Medicare to a voucher system. Garamendi opposes it.

The free public event will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Care Center of Rossmoor, 1224 Rossmoor Parkway in Walnut Creek.

Blackhawk

Attorney Catharine Baker, who oversaw GOP congressional candidate David Harmer’s ballot-counting examination in the November 2010 election, is the featured speaker at the May 12 evening meeting of the Blackhawk Republican Women.

Harmer lost the election to Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, but the race was tight up until Election Day. Both candidates and major parties sent representatives to watch the ballot-counting process.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a social gathering followed by the program at 6:15 p.m. It will be held at the Blackhawk Country Club, 599 Blackhawk Club Drive, in Danville.

Tickets cost $25. For reservations, send a check made out to the Blackhawk Republican Women, c/o Marianne Lyons, 856 Turrini Drive, Danville, CA 94526. Contact Lyons at rlyons1009@sbcglobal.net or call 925-820-6452.

San Francisco

Former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will deliver during on May 26 at the Commonwealth Club his annual critique of political trends.

The witty and sometimes acerbic Brown, a sought-after lecturer and a columnist, was the state’s first African-American speaker and held the position longer than any other politician. Term limits — of which he was paraded as the poster child in favor of its passage — later forced him out of office.

The event begins with a reception at 5:15 followed by the program at 6 p.m., at 595 Market Street, Second Floor, in San Francisco.

Tickets are $15 for members. For more information, contact the Commonwealth Club www.commonwealthclub.org or 415-597-6734.

Pittsburg

Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover has expanded by two the number of community members who will serve on a panel charged with handing out the proceeds of a Keller Canyon landfill tipping fee.

The fund, which has distributed between $800,000 and $1.8 million annually over the past decade, is intended to offset the landfill’s effects on traffic, open space, recreational facilities and agriculture in the Pittsburg-Bay Point area, where the dump is located.

In a scathing analysis published last year, retired Auditor-Controller Steve Ybarra recommended greater oversight of which community groups receive the grants. The panel was handing out more money than it was taking in, and there were allegations of favoritism.

Glover denied any wrongdoing had occurred but agreed to study improvements in the grant award process.

One seat will go to a member of the Bay Point Chamber of Commerce and the second to a faculty member or administrator in the Mt. Diablo Unified Schools who works in Bay Point schools.

Interested residents should contact Glover’s office at 925-427-8138 and request an application, which must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 20.

Martinez

Author and journalist Marc Sandalow will headline the second event of the new Martinez Speaker Series set for June 6.

Sandalow, who began his career as a reporter for the Martinez News Gazette, is the editor of the California News Service, associate academic director of the UC Berkeley Washington Center and a political analysis for KCBS radio in San Francisco.

He previously spent 21 years on the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle, including a decade as the paper’s bureau chief in Washington, D.C.

Sandalow wrote “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi’s Life, Times and Rise to Power” and co-authored “Ballparks: A Panoramic History.”

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Shell Clubhouse, 1635 Pacheco Blvd., in Martinez.

Tickets are $15 and include a post-event dessert reception with Sandalow. Purchase tickets online at www.MainStreetMartinez.org or call 925-228-3577.

Contra Costa County

The Contra Costa Election Department seeks pollworkers in Alamo and Richmond for the June 7 special election.

No prior experience is required. Training for election clerks is available online and a class will be offered in Richmond.

Clerks receive an $80 stipend for the day’s work, while more experienced inspectors receive $100. Workers may also receive other stipends of $5 to $20 for attending classes, picking up supplies, delivering ballots and providing Spanish bilingual assistance.

For information, call 925-335-7873 or email EO.Recruitment@vote.cccounty.us.

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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.

24

CD11: Is Harmer MIA?

Harmer

Harmer

I just fielded my fifth call today asking the whereabouts of the concession statement from 11th District GOP candidate David Harmer in the wake of his loss to Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney.

Here’s the short answer: There isn’t one. I haven’t heard from Harmer despite numerous calls and emails to his campaign spokespeople.

And no, contrary to the accusation from one caller, our failure to mention the fact that Harmer had not returned calls in our published story today does not reflect any bias other than the fact that we decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

For all we knew, he was dealing with a major family emergency.

UPDATE 3:20 P.M. I just got off the phone with Harmer campaign spokesman Tim Clark , who tells me that we will hear from the candidate “when the time is right for him” although the timing is uncertain. In the meantime, Clark said, Harmer and the campaign staff are reviewing concerns about the expedited signature comparison of vote-by-mail ballots in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. It’s unclear what action Harmer may take.

But here we are, 24 hours after the final county in the 11th District certified its results and still no statement from Harmer. No return phone call. No email from Harmer. His campaign people indicated someone would be saying something but that something has yet to materialize.

There has been no concession call to McNerney, either, according to the congressman’s press secretary.

A concession is unnecessary to the process, of course. It’s a symbolic display of sportsmanship and good manners.

I’ve covered David Harmer through two congressional campaigns now, and he has always made himself readily available to the press. He has always been gracious and generous with his time.

Harmer lost by roughly 1 percentage point, hardly a vote of confidence for McNerney but a win for the Democrat nonetheless.  It is also most likely a sufficient enough margin to discourage a costly recount.

It’s possible that Harmer is seriously contemplating whether to pay for a recount. Perhaps he is lobbying for the House of Representatives to intervene based on some type of allegations of voter fraud. Or both.

He may have campaign debt and it is undeniably easier to ask for money to keep the fight alive. The post-general Federal Election Commission campaign finance report deadline is Thursday, so we’ll have a better idea of the candidates’ financial picture when those reports come out.

The only person who really knows is Harmer.

I’ll keep calling.

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.

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McNerney’s lead continues to widen

The latest ballot-tallying updates from the most populous part of the 11th Congressional District shows incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, again has widened his lead over Republican challenger David Harmer.

Tuesday’s updates from the registrars of voters in San Joaquin County – which has the lion’s share of the four-county district’s registered voters – and Santa Clara County showed Harmer lost ground in the former and made none in the latter, leaving him 2,475 votes behind McNerney – just over 1 percent of the 237,808 ballots counted so far.

McNerney declared victory Nov. 10, when he was up by 1,681 votes or about seven-tenths of a percent; Harmer has yet to concede, and recently attended the GOP’s freshman orientation on Capitol Hill.

McNerney — now seeking a third term in the House of Representatives — leads Harmer — an attorney from San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley area — in Alameda County by about 15.5 percentage points and in Santa Clara County by 8.2 points.

Harmer leads McNerney by 0.15 of a point in Contra Costa County and by 3.6 points in San Joaquin County; that latter number decreased from a 4.3 percentage-point lead as of Nov. 10.

San Joaquin County is also where American Independent nominee David Christensen fared best, with almost 7.1 percent of the votes cast; districtwide, he took about 5.2 percent.

UPDATE @ 2:35 P.M.: The Associated Press has called the race for McNerney. I’ve still not heard back from Harmer’s people.

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.