Upstart Democratic Challenger Leading 11th District
SAN RAMON - With three- fourths of precincts in the 11th Congressional District reporting a slim lead for this little known Democratic challenger, Jerry McNerney, a wind energy engineer, is hoping to sail to Washington on the winds of change.
Final results will trickle in during the early morning hours, but should McNerney oust Richard Pombo (R- Tracy), the result will be a watershed moment on a midterm election night where Democrats regained control of the House. In the early morning hours, McNerney held a 4 point lead over the incumbent.
With cheers and applause erupting throughout the evening, the atmosphere of McNerney headquarters was upbeat and confident while supporters huddled around television sets tracking election returns.
“We’re going to change direction in this country, people stood up, and this is what happens,” McNerney told supporters. “We need honesty, integrity, and accountability, and we are going to hold this administration accountable for what it has done.”
This race was one of the most divisive congressional races this election season. Many voters in the 11th congressional district were reluctant to disclose whether they supported Congressman Richard Pombo, whose family has lived in Tracy for decades, and who had served thirteen years as Congressman, or his Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, who wasn’t even on the Democratic Party radar screen until late in the race.
Pombo, the chairman of the House Resources Committee, had been under increased scrutiny this election year. Among the reasons: Pombo accepted $32,000 from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and paid members of his family hundreds of thousands of dollars for work on his campaign.
The congressman had also riled up environmental activists nationwide by supporting weakening the Endangered Species Act as a tactic for helping the plight of farmers, and increasing domestic oil drilling.
The Defenders of Wildlife and The Sierra Club spent over $1.5 million dollars on advertisements attacking Pombo’s environmental record this election season.
Nontheless, Pombo, 46, won the money race, corralling nearly $3.8million compared to the $1.5 million McNerney raised.