Jerry McNerney says the 11th Congressional District is always a tough one to win because the political registration between Democrats and Republicans is close.
"It means that I have to be as good a congressman as I possibly can to get elected, which isn't a bad thing. In a district like this, you have to work extra hard," McNerney said.
According to the California Secretary of State's Office, the 11th Congressional District is 39.45 percent Democrat and 39.00 percent Republican; 17.54 percent decline to state.
In San Joaquin County, Republicans dominate the 11th with 41.63 percent of the registered voters. Democrats represent 30.90 percent, and 14.62 percent registered as "decline to state."
The Pleasanton Democrat is banking on McNerney's voting record in his nearly four years in Congress. He cites his work on behalf of veterans and his ability to work with House Republicans on legislation.
One of McNerney's biggest challenges is trying to convince voters that he is not a "puppet" of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco. Challenger David Harmer and other Republicans, quoting the Washington Post, maintain that Mc
Nerney votes with a majority of his Democratic colleagues 95.4 percent of the time during the current Congress.
However, McNerney paints himself as a moderate Democrat.
McNerney spokeswoman Sarah Hersh pointed to a different source — the National Journal — which states that McNerney is very moderate.
"I've stood up to House leadership on issues like taxes, controlling the debt and gun ownership, and I'll continue to fight for what's best for our area," McNerney said in a news release earlier this year.
Hersh said the Washington Post incorporated procedural votes in which there is little or no disagreement by either party in coming up with its 95 percent figure.
Regardless of the publication, Harmer strongly criticizes McNerney for his support of the stimulus package and bailout of Wall Street. Hersh acknowledged that the stimulus package was a very tough vote for McNerney, but she noted that the area benefited with money for Lodi Avenue improvements, Lodi Lake and the Lodi Energy Center off Interstate 5.
The Wall Street bailout was needed because the nation was in a deep recession, Hersh said, but McNerney voted against another $350 billion in bailout payments because money was used for corporate bonuses and other abuses.
McNerney said he's successfully worked with the GOP on a bill that benefits veterans with traumatic brain injuries, increased pay for those in combat and increased enforcement of methamphetamine laws.
"I pick issues and find a partner from the other side of the aisle," McNerney said. "Our country needs us to work together."
The ability to work the GOP has resulted in several local Republicans endorsing McNerney in his race against Republican David Harmer, he noted.
They include San Joaquin County Supervisors Larry Ruhstaller and Steve Bestolarides, Tracy City Councilman Steve Abercrombie, Danville Mayor Mike Doyle and former Manteca Mayor Jack Snyder.
McNerney cites his ability to work with Republicans as a reason he would succeed in the next two years regardless of which party holds the majority.
McNerney is especially proud of his work for veterans, including helping to get a new veterans' outpatient clinic and a 120-bed nursing home for San Joaquin County.
He noted that he also introduced a bill to increase benefits to family members of servicemen and women killed in action, supported increasing pay for those serving in combat and encouraging medical professionals for veterans to participate in continuing education courses.
Meanwhile, McNerney found himself defending an appearance he made on Oct. 1 in Oakland featuring Vice President Joe Biden. Harmer fired off an e-mail to the media saying that the fundraiser was held in secret and outside the district. It also labeled Biden as "one of the chief architects of overspending."
"Details about the Biden event have been carefully guarded from the public as McNerney seeks to avoid being seen in public with the vice president," according to the e-mail.
McNerney responded that it was a small event at a small venue — Claremont Resort and Spa — and he was pleased to get Biden's support.
Here are some of McNerney's positions on the issues:
IMMIGRATION: McNerney said he went to the Mexican border and saw that border patrol officers are very well-trained, but more are needed. He added that the federal government must work hard to make sure employers don't hire undocumented workers. However, he supports a "well-managed" seasonal worker program where undocumented workers return Mexico when the growing season is over.
REDUCING NATIONAL DEBT: McNerney said he voted against a debt-limit increase a couple of times, and that it is important to stop outsourcing jobs to other countries. McNerney said he voted for a bill to close tax loopholes used by corporations to move American jobs overseas.
DELTA/PERIPHERAL CANAL: He said that the federal government must monitor potential state legislation because the state doesn't have the wherewithal to come up with a solution. He strongly opposes the peripheral canal proposal, saying the Delta needs to be protected to avoid hurting local farmers. "If we don't get cooperation, everybody loses," McNerney said.
AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN: "We can't afford to be there indefinitely," McNerney. He sees the opportunity for Pakistan to be stable. Government officials must evaluate its military and diplomatic strategy every three to four months.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.