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Garamendi raising funds to pay off campaign debt

With a hard-fought re-election race done, Rep. John Garamendi needs more money to pay off his campaign debts.

Garamendi, D-Fairfield, will hold a fundraising luncheon Monday at an Italian restaurant in South San Francisco, seeking from $500 to $2,500 per person.

Garamendi fended off a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican, in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District. He finished with 54.1 percent of the vote to Vann’s 45.9 percent, according to still-unofficial results scheduled to be certified next week.

As of Oct. 17 – the final reporting deadline before the election – Garamendi’s campaign had outspent Vann’s by about 43 percent, but had only $112,698 cash on hand with $132,354 in outstanding debts and obligations.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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Heavy hitters helping Garamendi raise funds

Rep. John Garamendi, challenged in his bid for re-election by Republican Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, apparently feels it’s enough of a race to warrant asking some well-known names to help him raise money.

John GaramendiGaramendi, D-Fairfield, on Monday had a fundraiser at the San Francisco office of the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe law firm, with former Mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown as the guest speaker and the current and former chairmen of the California Democratic Party – John Burton and Art Torres, respectively – among the co-hosts. Individual tickets ranged from $250 to $2,500, while “PAC Friends” were asked to give $1,000 to $5,000.

Now Garamendi is touting an evening with House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Tuesday, August 21 at Prima, a lovely Italian restaurant in Walnut Creek; the theme will be “rebuilding the American manufacturing base.” Individual tickets for this one range from $500 to $2,500, while PAC sponsors will pay $2,500 and PAC co-hosts will pay $5,000.

“This is a critical event for me,” he said in an e-mail that went out today. “The Republican SuperPACs have made me a prime target in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, pouring over $130,000 of PAC money into my opponent’s campaign in just the last two weeks of June and now buying up millions of dollars of air time to smear and distort my image. Please consider supporting my campaign and help me fight back by attending this event.”

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Westlands farmers bank on Delta House aspirants

Two Republican House candidates from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area took campaign cash from downstate farmers whom would benefit from a new water plan at the Delta’s expense, the area’s current lawmakers say.

Kim Vann, a Colusa County Supervisor challenging Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District received $5,000 from the California Westside Farmers PAC in late April. Ricky Gill, a Lodi law graduate challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, received $5,000 from the PAC in late June.

The PAC acts on behalf of farmers in the Westlands Water District, an agricultural powerhouse in the otherwise arid west reaches of the San Joaquin Valley. McNerney’s campaign noted today that Sarah Woolf, a member of the Westlands board of directors, is the PAC’s treasurer.

A new Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposal announced last week by Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar includes a $14 billion tunnel system beneath the Delta to ship water southward, largely for agricultural purposes. Garamendi and McNerney are among lawmakers who say this plan would benefit Westlands farmers while economically and environmentally devastating the Delta.

“This development is a huge breach of the public trust,” McNerney had said last week. “The families, farmers, and small business owners in northern California stand to have their livelihoods destroyed. This will have ruinous consequences for our local economy at a time when we already struggle with record unemployment.”

McNerney campaign spokeswoman Lauren Smith said Tuesday that Gill has claimed to side with Delta area residents, “but his willingness to cozy up to the people intent on robbing us of our water, ultimately causing economic ruin for our area farmers and small business owners, is deeply disturbing. Once again, Ricky Gill has shown that he just doesn’t get it. It’s clear that peripheral canal supporters believe they have an ally and advocate in Ricky Gill and a staunch and vocal opponent in Jerry McNerney.”

Not so, replied Gill spokesman Colin Hunter.

Ricky Gill“Ricky has been and remains opposed to any plan to divert water around the Delta because of the devastating effect it could have on farmers in this region including his family, which has been farming here for 30 years,” he said. “Unlike Jerry McNerney, who carries an ‘F’ rating from the American Farm Bureau, Ricky intends to be an advocate for farmers when he’s elected to Congress.”

(Taking a quick glance around the interwebs, I see the American Farm Bureau rated McNerney at 41 percent in 2011; also, here’s a more specific rundown of how he voted on issues of importance to the bureau.)

Hunter called the new Delta plan “the culmination of Jerry McNerney’s failed tenure in Congress. He’s been sitting on the sidelines for five years and effectively allowed this to happen.”

As for the PAC money, Hunter said, “Ricky doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Westlands on several issues, but they are farmers like Ricky and they know that Ricky is going to stand up for farmers up and down the valley when he’s in Congress” on issues from free trade to regulatory reform. “McNerney is on the wrong side of all of them.”

Gill’s campaign also Tuesday was touting new poll results Tuesday showing Gill and McNerney in a dead heat. (UPDATE @ 8:07 p.m.: McNerney’s camp just produced its own new poll showing he has a commanding lead.)

In the 3rd District, Garamendi last week had said the tunnel proposal “could wreak havoc on the Delta and the jobs it sustains and put existing water rights in the Delta and Northern California at risk.”

“It is possible for California to solve its water problems, but the Delta and Northern California counties must be at the table, and it will take a comprehensive, multifaceted approach, not just a piece of plumbing in the Delta,” he said. “We must address the needs of all Californians by prioritizing storage, conservation, recycling, levee improvements, and habitat restoration.”

Kim VannVann campaign manager Alee Lockman emailed today that Vann “believes that any conveyance plans must also include authorizing language for increasing water storage. The proposed plan is by no means a perfect solution and there are a number of local issues at stake, but the dialogue of the past week underscores the need for all of us to come together and work toward a solution that will best serve the entire state’s water needs.”

Asked specifically about the PAC money, Lockman replied there’s “nothing to add that hasn’t already been included. We need an open dialogue and we need to find a solution that works best for the entire state of California.”

The PAC also has given $10,000 to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as well as $5,000 each to Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock; Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Clovis; and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. Among other House challengers, the PAC has given $5,000 each to Republican David Valadao in the 21st District and to Democrat Denise Ducheny in the 51st District.