Tracy, CA / Bilingual Weekly
The Tracy Press’ Jerry McNerney-David Harmer debate on Saturday, October 23 was, to say the least, lively.
The U.S. Congress 11th District is one of the most contested races in the country and the National Republican Party has devoted more than $600,000 dollars to recuperate the seat it lost in 2006 when McNerney, a PhD mathematician, with no political background, unseated the seasoned, 7-term Richard Pombo. The Republican Party believes widespread discontent borne of the ongoing recession can gain them the 39 seats they need to control Congress. According to random polls —some used by The New York Times to assess outcomes— Harmer is holding a lead over McNerney. Sarah Hersh, Communications Director for McNerney for Congress, says that their own poll says otherwise. Actually, when Harmer ran against John Garamendi for the 10th Congressional District last year, the polls also showed him with an outstanding lead (InsideBayArea, October 1, 2009) yet he lost by a full 10 points a few weeks later.
On Saturday’s debate it was clear, few among the hundreds in attendance wanted to hear what the candidates said, but rather boo the opponent while cheering theirs.
Although Harmer held an edge on decisive, absolute and accusatory statements about the state of the country under President Obama, McNerney calmly reminded attendees it was the past Republican administration that caused all of these ills.
“(McNerney) delivered a new veterans’ medical facility to our area, creating 900 jobs,” said Hersh, noting a hundred local veterans —many of them Republican— signed a joint endorsement of the Congressman, and adding that “he also helped pass laws to provide tax relief to small businesses and wrote a bill to close tax loopholes that big corporations use to send jobs overseas.”
Harmer is a corporate lawyer who moved from Utah —where he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1996— to the East Bay. In 2009 he tried for the 10th District and this year, since he doesn’t have to live in the district to represent it, he is running against McNerney.
The 11th Congressional district is best described by Chicago-based RealClearPolitics.com (RCP) “…is a misshapen amalgamation of precincts stretching across central California. It resembles a hammerhead shark, viewed from the top, making a sharp left U-turn. The population base of the district is in San Joaquin County, centered in the cities of Stockton and Lodi. The “head” of the shark cuts a “T” across Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties.”