NRCC targets six California House Dems for 2016

Six California House Democrats are among the National Republican Congressional Committee’s 19 top targets in 2016’s election.

“As Nancy Pelosi continues to pull her smaller and weaker caucus of House Democrats to the far left, we are going to make sure that these vulnerable Democrats are held responsible for their disastrous policies,” NRCC Communications Director Katie Martin said in a news release Wednesday. “As demonstrated in the past several elections, House Democrats have been oblivious to the will of the American people and it is time to end their toxic agenda which is bankrupting middle class families.”

In the NRCC’s crosshairs are John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove; Julia Brownley, D-Thousand Oaks; Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands; Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert; and Scott Peters, D-San Diego.

The list matches up pretty neatly with those identified last week by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as the first members of its Frontline program for the most vulnerable incumbents. Bera, Brownley, Aguilar, Ruiz and Peters all made that list, Roll Call reported, and so the DCCC will frontload them with fundraising and organizational support.

“Each one of these members knows what it takes to win tough elections: working hard, standing up for your district, and not taking anything for granted,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. “We are adding them to our Frontline Program, led by Representative Dan Kildee, to maximize their resources and ensure they are able to keep fighting to strengthen middle class economics. You don’t add by subtracting, so the success of our Members is integral to our plan to stay on offense in 2016.”

It’s rather early to make predictions, given there’s little sense yet of what caliber of opponents these incumbents will draw in 2016. But I doubt John Garamendi – whose 3rd Congressional District has a 9.5-point registration edge for Democrats – is losing any sleep.

Garamendi won his fourth term in November by a margin of 5.4 percentage points; Bera won his second term by 0.8 of a percentage point; Brownley won her second term by 2.6 percentage points; Aguilar won his first term by 3.4 percentage points; Ruiz won his second term by 8.4 percentage points; and Peters won his second term by 3.2 percentage points.

Notably absent from the NRCC’s list: Jim Costa, D-Fresno, who won his sixth term in November by a scant 1.4 percentage points after a surprisingly strong showing by Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra. But the NRCC must believe that the 16.5-point registration edge that Democrats hold in that 16th Congressional District will be insurmountable in a presidential election year, when turnout will be much higher than in last year’s midterm.

Ditto for Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who won his fifth term in November by 4.8 percentage points. If that’s as close as the GOP could get in a midterm, the 12.7-point registration edge that Democrats hold in the 9th Congressional District must look like too high a hurdle to leap.


Liberal ad dings Jeff Denham for shutdown

A Northern California congressman is one of 10 House Republicans being hammered with a new TV ad over the federal government shutdown.

The liberal/labor-backed Americans United for Change told Politico it’s a six-figure ad buy for the 10 swing districts across the nation, but wouldn’t provide a breakdown showing how much of that is for the ad against Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto.

“Make no mistake: Congressman Denham and fellow Republicans’ refusal to support clean legislation to keep the government open at the 11th hour was the act of politicians that that welcomed a shutdown,” AUFC President Brad Woodhouse, who formerly was the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, said in a news release.

“Denham joined with the extortionist Tea Party crowd in Congress who demanded a ransom they knew they would never get: killing the Affordable Care Act,” Woodhouse said. “With local stories pouring in each day of the very real ways the Tea Party shutdown is hurting the middle class, it’s time Denham and fellow Republicans in Congress come to grips with reality that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, that it was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it’s working.”

Denham’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Daniel Scarpinato insisted this shutdown is Democrats’ fault.

“Voters in these districts aren’t going to buy these laughable attacks from an extremist group,” he said via email. “Republicans have passed bipartisan resolutions to keep the government open, but President Obama and Harry Reid won’t compromise one inch. It’s time to end the political games and stop putting families, seniors and our economy at risk.”

The House Republicans’ continuing resolutions were predicated upon defunding or delaying the nation’s new health insurance law; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to allow a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution, even though a bipartisan majority of the House now seems to support one.

UPDATE @ 1:37 P.M.: “We are not surprised that a liberal special interest group would decide to start negative campaigning so early and to exploit the situation in Washington. The ad is factually wrong,” said Dave Gilliard, Denham’s campaign consultant. “Rep. Denham did not vote to shut down the government. In fact, he voted numerous times to keep the government open; he requested his own pay be withheld during the shutdown; and he is working hard to find a compromise that will resolve the situation, protect taxpayers and get the government working again.”


Rick Perry to speak at California GOP convention

Texas Gov. Rick Perry – a 2012 Republican presidential primary candidate who some believe will try again in 2016 – will headline the California Republican Party’s fall convention this October in Anaheim.

Rick Perry“Gov. Perry’s leadership is a major reason why Texas has emerged as one of America’s leading forces for economic opportunity and personal freedom, and we’re delighted that he accepted our invitation,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said Monday.

Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden also are scheduled to speak at the convention, which will run October 4-6 at the Hilton Anaheim.

Day, now in her second term as RNC co-chair, will discuss “the RNC’s historic investment in California,” according to the party’s news release. The RNC less than a month ago announced it had hired 23-year-old San Diego campaign operative Clinton Soffer as its state director for California, charged with overseeing GOP field operations as the besieged California party works to rebuild from the ground up.

Rep. Walden, R-Ore., “will focus his remarks on California’s critical role in maintaining the Republican majority in the House of Representatives,” the state GOP’s news release said. Much like last year, California should see a bunch of competitive House races in 2014.


Why is NRCC still targeting Jerry McNerney?

I got a good laugh from an e-mail I received yesterday morning from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Today, the National Republican Congressional Committee is welcoming Jerry McNerney back to Washington with a plan he won’t be able to resist: the House Democrats’ Retirement Package. This is an incredible offer for the California Democrat. With voters poised to boot McNerney out of office in the next election, why not just bow out now?,” the email said.

“Why wait until voters show you the door in 2014?” NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in the release. “House Democrats continue to support tax and spend policies and a big government agenda. If McNerney doesn’t retire soon, voters are going to deliver his retirement for him.”

McNerney, D-Stockton, was one of 10 House Democrats whose districts were targeted with this message, and the only one in California. I just can’t imagine why the NRCC continues to see McNerney as vulnerable, given that he just whupped the NRCC’s anointed “Young Gun,” Ricky Gill of Lodi, by 11.2 percentage points last month – the largest victory margin McNerney has ever had. He also now enjoys the largest Democratic voter registration edge (12 points) he’s ever had, so it’s hard to see how the NRCC sees a foothold there.

But hey, email is free, right? The true test will be when we see how much money the NRCC does, or doesn’t, put behind the next Republican to challenge McNerney.


Fact-checking new ads in CA9 McNerney-Gill race

Here’s the latest ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee attacking Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton:

The bill to which this ad refers is HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House approved June 26, 2009 on a 219-212 vote; the bill later died in the U.S. Senate. The bill proposed a cap-and-trade system in which the government would limit the total amount of greenhouse gases that could be emitted nationally.

The bill did not impose an “energy tax” directly on Americans. Some opponents claimed it would raise energy costs, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded the cost would be negligible for most and some poorer households would actually gain:

(T)he net annual economy-wide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion—or about $175 per household. That figure includes the cost of restructuring the production and use of energy and of payments made to foreign entities under the program, but it does not include the economic benefits and other benefits of the reduction in GHG emissions and the associated slowing of climate change. CBO could not determine the incidence of certain pieces (including both costs and benefits) that represent, on net, about 8 percent of the total. For the remaining portion of the net cost, households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020, while households in the highest income quintile would see a net cost of $245. Added costs for households in the second lowest quintile would be about $40 that year; in the middle quintile, about $235; and in the fourth quintile, about $340. Overall net costs would average 0.2 percent of households’ after-tax income.

The American Petroleum Institute had estimated the bill would raise gas prices by 77 cents per gallon, but the Environmental Protection Agency estimated the increases in gas prices would amount to less than 2 cents per year over the next two decades.

Among many other provisions, the bill included a low-income energy tax credit program to offset any impact of higher energy prices; an energy rebate to reach families who don’t make enough to file tax returns; and a $4-billion, one-year program providing vouchers for the purchase or lease of a new car or truck to those who trade in an eligible vehicle for one that’s more fuel efficient.

The bill was widely supported by environmental organizations, but actually split the business community somewhat: Supporters included General Electric, Dow Chemical, Pacific Gas and Electric, Ford Motor Co. and DuPont, while opponents included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Here’s the latest ad that McNerney is running against his Republican challenger, Ricky Gill:

“Ricky Gill never held a full-time job.” – Gill has held various summer jobs and internships, but has had no full-time job other than being a partner in his parents’ farming and RV park businesses, where his duties have been unclear. Gill graduated from law school in May, but hasn’t taken the California State Bar exam and so can’t practice law yet.

“He has an allowance from his parents.” – Gill’s personal financial disclosure says he received $10,000 in salary in 2010 (while in law school) from CVR Management of Lodi, a company registered to two of his brothers, not his parents. I’m pretty sure it was the California Democratic Party which first called this “an allowance.”

“Gill Family: $40,000 in unpaid taxes and liens” – The McNerney campaign provided me a 27-page PDF of lien records (summary pages 1 and 2) culled from the Sacramento and San Joaquin county recorders’ offices, detailing various liens from 1985 through 2011 for state and county taxes, delinquent utility charges, and contractors’ services.

“Gill Family: $165,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidies” – McNerney’s campaign provided this breakdown:

  • Gill-Chabra Farms: $43,531, including $35,892 in disaster subsidies in 2004-2005 and $7,639 in commodity subsidies from 1996 through 2001
  • Jasbir Gill: $19,314 in disaster subsidies in 2004
  • Jasbir Gill Family LP: $36,997 in disaster subsidies in 2005
  • Gill Vineyards LLC: $65,465 in 2001 in disaster subsidies
  • Gill’s campaign spokesman told the Associated Press earlier this year that the disaster subsidies were to offset crop problems affecting the family’s wine grapes.

    “Jerry McNerney: Opposed $350 billion bailout”As I reported here a month ago, he opposed it after it had already happened, essentially a completely symbolic vote. But he had voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in the first place, as had 91 House Republicans including now-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

    UPDATE @ 2:12 P.M.: Gill’s campaign notes that I didn’t fact-check McNerney’s description of himself as “a real small businessman;” his financial disclosures indicate he resigned as CEO of Hawt Power in 2006, and mentioned no income from any business in 2011.


    Is one of these ‘Young Guns’ shooting blanks?

    Two of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” are near the Bay Area, but one of them might be shooting blanks.

    Unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary in the 3rd Congressional District show incumbent John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, got 52.5 percent of the vote while “Young Gun” Kim Vann – a Colusa County supervisor – got 25.4 percent.

    It’s true that Vann had to beat back three other Republican challengers, but the long and short of it is that Garamendi still managed to pull a majority of the votes in a low-turnout election that should’ve favored Republicans. In November, with the presidential election drawing many more voters to the polls and Democratic turnout improving accordingly, Vann’s going to have a much tougher time. The well-respected Cook Political Report agrees, listing Garamendi’s district – which has pieces of Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties – as a “likely Democratic” win this fall.

    Not that Vann is letting any grass grow under her feet. Here’s the video she released yesterday:

    It could be somewhat different story over in the 9th Congressional District, listed by Cook as “lean Democratic” as incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, seeks re-election.

    Unofficial results show McNerney got 48.4 percent of the vote, while “Young Gun” Ricky Gill – a Lodi native who just finished law school at UC-Berkeley – drew 39.5 percent; another Republican, Mountain House businessman John McDonald, got 12.1 percent.

    Unlike Garamendi, McNerney didn’t manage to get a majority on Tuesday. Spokeswoman Lauren Smith told me late Tuesday night that he’s not worried; he believes stronger Democratic turnout in November will buoy him to victory. The district – with parts of San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties – is registered 43.8 percent Democrat, 36.5 percent Republican and 15.8 percent no-party-preference, which gives him a better edge than the tiny GOP advantage he overcame in his old district in November 2010. But Gill is playing up his local roots and has raised a lot of money, and McNerney certainly can’t kick back and relax this summer.