Why Ricky Gill lost

The San Joaquin Valley is becoming California’s strongest Republican bastion, the Fresno Bee reports. “The area from Stockton to Bakersfield was the only area where the Republicans did at all well,” political analyst Tony Quinn says.

He omits the McNerney-Gill race. Republican challenger Ricky Gill lost, despite running a well-financed, effective campaign.

Professor Keith Smith at UOP thinks Gill erred by positioning himself as the San Joaquin candidate. Much of CD 9 lies outside San Joaquin, he points out.

A more likely reason is raw registration numbers. Dems had something like a 9-point advantage over Republicans heading into the race. The Gill camp was confident they could surmount this hurdle. They almost did, though feverish fundraising.

But Dems mounted a very effective voter registration drive that increased their advantage to 12 points.

“They increased tremendously,” Registrar Austin Erdman said of Democratic numbers. “They had a drive out. They were working real hard. And they did it really well, too.”

The resulting 12-point advantage was just too formidable, even for a phenom like Gill. Being down-ticket of a Romney loss didn’t help either. 

“I think we ran a great race,” said Gill’s spokesman, Colin Hunter. ”But we hit ceiling. Of structural problems that affected a lot of Republican candidates in California and around the country, perhaps particularly California.”

By structural, he means superior Democratic numbers. 

“I do think there was a bit of a wave from the president, and that prevented our candidate around the state from prevailing,” Hunter added.

It’s interesting to note that McNerney’s margin of victory — 4,338 votes — is a smaller number of voters than Dems gained through thier registration drive. Obviously the drive was key.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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