Here’s the political website Roll Call on the McNerney-Gill race:
“The idea that Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) would lose to challenger Ricky Gill (R) always struck me as little more than wishful thinking by Republicans. Gill, after all, is a 25-year-old Indian-American law school graduate making his first run for office. True, Gill raised almost $1 million in the off-year and GOP strategists have been promoting his candidacy since last year, but McNerney, who ousted incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo (R) in 2006, has proved to be more adept than Republicans ever believed.
“But insiders on both sides of the aisle agree that Gill has become a serious threat to McNerney. Democrats are scratching their heads in disbelief over the development, while Republicans are simply happy with the situation. Redistricting moved the district farther east, and President George W. Bush carried the redrawn district narrowly in 2004. Because of that, the idea of a Gill upset of the Congressman is not delusional, but it isn’t something that many believed was truly possible.”
On balance, I’ll call this race for McNerney. Gill has run a terrific race. But his central theme — that McNerney is a Bay Area carpetbagger — is blunted by McNerney’s tireless visits to Stockton and San Joaquin.
The concern about a carpetbagger is that their heart and their interests are elsewhere. But McNerney was frequently on the job in San Joaquin, even before redistricting made the county job number one for elected officials who represent it. He was here more in his first two year than his predecessor, Richard Pombo, managed in three full terms. And Pombo was from here. But his heart took a one-way trip to Washington.
A recent Politico article illustrates the dividends:
“In the Stockton area, Gill … reminds, on repeat, that McNerney, the Democrat, previously represented a district that includes an eastern part of the Bay Area. McNerney says he’s moved into the new district, 55 percent of which he has represented in the past.
“Still, during a visit to the Parker Alley Café in economically depressed Stockton, Gill told the same woman a handful of times that McNerney isn’t one of them.
“We need a valley voice in Congress; we haven’t had that for six years,” he said, later adding, “Do you want an elected representative or someone with their heart in the Bay Area.” The woman then recalled fondly of working with McNerney.”
McNerney’s vulnerability, in my opinion, is that he is at heart more liberal than his Blue Dog constituents. But if you give a Blue Dog good constituent service, the dog shouldn’t bite you at election time.