Sabato's Crystal Ball

California (11) House 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: Jerry McNerney, incumbent

Republican candidate: David Harmer, corporate attorney

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 14, 2010

Republican and nonpartisan polling has shown Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney trailing in this battleground match-up against Republican David Harmer. The DCCC has tried to label Harmer “a bailed-out bank executive” but trashing the bailouts cannot be a great strategy for saving a congressman who voted for them. For their part, the NRCC has coined the moniker “Party line Jerry McNerney.” We will have to wait to see which label sticks. This race moves from Leans Democratic to Toss-Up.

Update: August 9, 2010

Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney is facing Republican challenger David Harmer in the fall. McNerney has $1.2 million in the bank, while Harmer lags behind in fundraising with only $466,000. McNerney also recently received the endorsement of several local Republican leaders. These developments bode well for Congressman McNerney, but he has a challenging fight ahead in a difficult year for Democrats. This race is one targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee who hope that a Republican win in the 11th district can help them take majority control of the House. For now, the race Leans Democratic.

Background:

Current Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney ended a long stretch of Republican incumbency when he defeated Richard Pombo in 2006. Now, he seeks to add to his gains but is facing some early, stiff opposition from several Republican contenders, including businessman Jon Del Arroz and vineyard owner Brad Goehring. Though McNerney will not have to spend as much money early on because he lacks a primary challenger, Del Arroz still managed to outraise the incumbent in campaign funds (as of the last reporting deadline), $553k to $519k. Other Republican hopefuls include Values Advocacy Council President Larry Pegram and former U.S. Marshall Tony Amador, but at this point they are not considered front-runners.

The 11th District supported George W. Bush with an average victory margin of 8.5 percent in 2000 and 2004, but elected Barack Obama by nearly 10 percent in 2008. Perhaps dramatically declining economic conditions in California will sway more sympathy to the Republican cause—though the state’s budget crisis has occurred under Republican Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger. As for now, McNerney might be able to enjoy a glass of Goehring’s California wine while he watches the Republican primary play out.