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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.

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3 things for the GOP to consider in California

1.) Learn to choose better battles.

Every cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee tells us that Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is among the nation’s most vulnerable House Democrats; every cycle, he proves otherwise. In 2008, with a 1-point voter registration disadvantage, he won by 10 percentage points; in 2010, with a .32-point voter-registration disadvantage, he won by 1.1 percentage points; and this year, with a 12-point voter-registration edge, he won by 8 percentage points. Instead of pouring resources into the campaign of a 25-year-old with no job experience, perhaps the GOP should’ve looked for greener pastures.

2.) Your navel-gazing is near-sighted.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro’s statement last night indicates he believes Romney and Republicans failed to “make the case, at every level, for tax reform and to successfully articulate that a welfare state can’t succeed and the true engine of growth is a vigorous free enterprise system.” I’m sure some Democrats will disagree with the philosophical underpinnings of that argument, and that’s not a debate I’ll get into here. But what Del Beccaro failed to address was that the GOP clearly lost big among Latinos, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and young voters – that is, most of this nation’s future electorate. If his party can’t find platform that appeals to these blocs, and an effective way of explaining it to them, it’ll continue to wane even further. Already I see some GOPers sniffing that Obama won without a mandate, but the fact is, he won the popular vote by at least about 2.7 million and – if Florida were to stop counting votes now (and where have I heard THAT before?) – he’d win there too, meaning he carried every battleground state except North Carolina.

3.) Who has the mandate?

Gov. Jerry Brown has the mandate. He won it in 2010 when he beat out the candidate who spent a record $142 million of her money to no avail. He won it again last night with a resounding 8-point victory for Prop. 30, his tax hike for K-12 and higher education. And it seems voters are tired enough of gridlock in Sacramento that they may have handed Democrats two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature – another mandate, of sorts, for Brown’s agenda. The moral of this story: Don’t mess with Jerry.

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Ricky Gill’s mom pushed patients for votes

Lodi Memorial Hospital’s CEO had to tell Republican congressional candidate Ricky Gill’s mother to lay off soliciting votes or campaign donations from patients.

Gill’s mother, Dr. Parampal Gill, is a prominent obstetrician in San Joaquin County; Gill is challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the 9th Congressional District.

A former hospital employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she was one of those who complained to hospital administrators.

“She handed out her son’s cards at Lodi Memorial Hospital, and she even would go as far as to say things to them like, ‘I delivered you a beautiful baby and in return I want four votes,’” the former staffer said. “The hospital has a no-soliciting policy which I assume extends to physicians… I was offended for and on behalf of patients.”

“Our CEO did have a conversation with Dr. Gill about this and it came about because we had a staffer bring to our attention that she heard Dr. Gill saying something like this to a patient,” hospital spokeswoman Carol Farron confirmed this week. “We have had no complaints from patients themselves, however a staffer did bring it to our attention and it’s our policy and our practice if a staffer brings a concern like this to our attention that we would speak to any of the parties involved and just caution them that it’s not appropriate behavior. Because we didn’t have any direct patient complaints, that’s as far as we took it.”

The hospital’s vice president of nursing also spoke with Dr. Gill about the verbal solicitations, Farron said.

“Dr. Gill has a right to advocate for her son, just like any mother would,” Gill campaign spokesman Colin Hunter said today.

Jennifer Simoes, chief of legislation at the Medical Board of California, said things like handing out campaign literature or soliciting votes wouldn’t be actionable by the board, which deals with Medical Practice Act and quality-of-care violations.

“However, absent permission of the patient, using information from patient’s medical records for anything other than the care and treatment of the patient, is something that the Board would look into if we were to receive a complaint,” she said. “The Board would look at the facts of each individual case to determine if there was a violation.”

Molly Weedn, spokeswoman for the California Medical Association, said a physician who provided patient information to a campaign most likely would be violating privacy rules in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. But “if the physician was using the information to reach out to a patient on his/her own, then it wouldn’t be considered a violation,” she said.

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MC Hammer to get out vote for Jerry McNerney

Hammer pantsCapping our day of entertainment-themed weirdness (East Coast looks like “The Day After Tomorrow!” Disney buys Lucasfilm, will make “Star Wars Ep. VII!” ABC to make Oakland “City Hall” drama!) comes this tidbit: singer and artist MC Hammer (nee Stanley Burrell) will help lead a canvass on Monday in Stockton in support of Rep. Jerry McNerney and Stockton City Council candidate Michael Tubbs.

Hammer, 50, lives in Tracy, which actually is just outside the 9th Congressional District in which McNerney, D-Stockton, is seeking re-election.

As when Hammer lent his skills to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign, this raises some questions: Is McNerney actually too legit to quit? Can Ricky Gill not touch this? Which candidate needs to pray just to make it Tuesday?

We’ll know soon enough.

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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.

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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.