Pleasanton Weekly

Column - May 21, 2010

An over-the-shoulder look at Harmer

by Jeb Bing

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) is no doubt looking over his shoulder at his 11th Congressional District after voters ousted several congressional incumbents in other state primaries Tuesday.

And well he should. Of the 53 congressional districts in California, 33 are considered safe for incumbent Democrats, 19 safe for incumbent Republicans and only one—the 11th—is being eyed as possibly vulnerable.

McNerney, who is seeking reelection to a third term in Congress, has no opposition in his bid for the Democratic Party nomination in the June 8 state primary. Four Republicans, on the other hand, sensing a chance to capture the 11th District seat, are vying for their party's nomination. They include David Harmer, an attorney in San Ramon; Elizabeth Emken, a lobbyist/advocate for Autism Speaks and a resident of Danville; Tony Amador, a U.S. Marshal from Lodi, and Brad Goehring, a wine grape grower from Clements.

The district includes Pleasanton and other parts of Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, as well as rural San Joaquin County.

Last week, more than 100 civic and business leaders filled the outdoor garden patio at Barone's Restaurant to hear Harmer, enthusiastically greeting, contributing and applauding the candidate as he railed against McNerney and what he called irresponsible spending programs the congressman has supported in Washington.

If elected, he told the crowd, he would work to un-do those programs, including President Obama's health care plan, cap and trade and stimulus funds which he said is "a "shell game, taking borrowed money the government doesn't have to spend on things we don't need." A wide majority of those in the 11th Congressional District opposed those programs, Harmer claimed, but McNerney voted for them anyhow. "McNerney needs to go!" (APPLAUSE). He also praised the Tea Party movement and, at the rally, recognized the organizer of the April 15 Pleasanton event, Bridget Melson (MORE APPLAUSE). Then, building on that group's Tax Day message, Harmer said the federal government is spending too much and his priority, if elected, would be to apply the brakes. He vowed to work with others of like mind in Washington to get rid of $1.4 trillion of the $12.8 trillion of national debt for starters, just by rescinding most of the spending that's been added to the budget in the last two years (MORE APPLAUSE).

He cited a sign on Santa Rita Road as an example of excessive federal spending. It reads that the roadway improvements are being made courtesy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the so-called stimulus fund. If he was a graffiti artist, Harmer said he would stopped and spray painted the words "inter-generational theft," since the work being done here will have to be paid by future generations of taxpayers all across the country.

Harmer is campaigning as a lifelong Ronald Reagan Republican. His father, John Harmer, who introduced him at Barrone's, served as California's lieutenant governor under Reagan. Early in his career, David Harmer represented the Pacific Legal Foundation, where he defended property rights and other issues in state and federal courts. He also was a Resident Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and his book on education reform was published by the Cato Institute, a market-oriented public policy organization.

Harmer frequently refers to Reagan as is mentor and to the former president's obsession with the Constitution, its authors and the country's founders. These are the people and principles that "have made America a force for good not only domestically but throughout the world for the 222 years of our existence as a nation," Harmer said. The country's financial concerns today are not unlike those in Greece, which Harmer likened to a canoe that is just 20 yards from the tip of Niagara Falls. He sees the U.S., with its debt and spending policies just 100 feet upstream wants a chance to serve in Congress to help paddle our canoe to shore while the country still can.

Among Harmer's priorities are spending cuts and curbs, moving the government from a cash base accounting system to an accrual base much like business, curbing any funding by the House of Representatives, which controls the purse-strings, on the Obamacare health plan, removing state restrictions on interstate marketing and purchase of health insurance and beefing up the borders to stop illegal immigration. In fact, if he was an Arizona state legislator, he would have approved that state's new immigration law and encouraged the governor to sign it. (THIS TIME TO THE LOUDEST APPLAUSE).


Posted by uncle t, a resident of Del Prado
on May 21, 2010 at 8:04 am

Sounds like Harmer hosted a right-wing bigot-fest at Barone's. I wonder if they brought their white hoods to this event.

Posted by John, a resident of Del Prado
on May 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

At least McNerney's over the shoulder look is at his own district.

Isn't Mr Harmer from the 10th? Couldn't win there last fall against Garamendi, so he brings the recycled lawnsigns and party hats here? Lucky us. It ain't easy being a carpetbagger. Must be tough out there when wannabe politicians need to relocate to find work.

Posted by Amy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2010 at 6:07 pm

So let me get this straight.

1. California election law states that the only legal residence requirement for holding a US Congressional seat, is that you must live within the State of Calif.

2. You are suggesting that Harmer should move A COUPLE BLOCKS from his current San Ramon location TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CD-11 ??? You think the hassle of selling your home and searching for another at least couple blocks away is that necessary, huh?

3. Did I get that straight?

4. You are to me the equivalent of what dog crap is to my shoe.

Posted by Hmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Poor uncle t. I'm sure there's a class you can take somewhere to learn about debating the issues so you don't have to resort to third grade name calling.

Posted by Hmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm

My apologies to third graders. No disrespect intended.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Del Prado
on May 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I don't remember hearing any DEMONcat/Liberal complain when Mrs. Bill Clinton moved to New York to run for the Senate. Guess there's a double standard. Good luck to the Demoncratic Socialist Workers Party in November.

Posted by Rae, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 21, 2010 at 8:07 pm

"A career politician in search of a place to serve" were David Harmer's words describing John Garamendi during the 2009 10th District Congressional seat runoff - an accusation Mr. Harmer made because Mr. Garamendi didn't live in the 10th district.

It obviously mattered to Mr. Harmer in his last run for office that a Congressional candidate live in the district in which he was campaigning. Now, Mr. Harmer's *own* words aptly apply to his candidacy in CD11.

Based on his own assessment, if Mr. Harmer is elected we will have a "career politician" who settled on CD11 in his "search of a place to serve." A politician who is not invested in CD11. A politician who gives us no real local representation at the national level!

Posted by jimf01, a resident of another community
on May 22, 2010 at 10:16 am

You forgot to include the Christian fist republican last slam you tried previously Rae.

David Harmer lives in San Ramon, his kids go to school a couple miles away, in CD-11!

My question is how can a guy who has never been elected be called a career politician? How can a guy who has worked for a living, earning wages until age 40+, his "career" years now half over, be a career politician?
A career politician is by definition, someone who has only been a politician and never had a career. Which is the EXACT opposite of what David Harmer is.

Posted by Rae, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Is it your belief that someone doesn't become a "politician" until they are elected? It certainly isn't mine. Someone, like Mr. Harmer, who has been a Campaign Manager, Campaign Finance Director, a Washington Chief of Staff and run for office three times should absolutely be considered a "career politician".

In 1994 Mr. Harmer hired on as the Campaign Manager and Finance Director for Utah Republican Mrs. Enid Greene Waldholtz. When she was elected to Utah's CD02 in 1995, Mr. Harmer stayed on as her Washington Chief of Staff . . . until the scandal broke about Rep. Waldholtz' husband, Joe, illegally funneling $1.7 million from a check-kiting scheme into Rep. Waldholtz' 1994 campaign – the one where Mr. Harmer was her Finance Director. Joe pleaded guilty to charges of tax, bank, and campaign fraud, and became a guest of the Allenwood Federal Prison Camp in Pennsylvania for 37 months.

According to an interview in 1995, Mr. Harmer said "he repeatedly warned Enid Greene Waldholtz of cash flow and financial accounting problems caused by her husband." So, as Finance Director, he knew there were irregularities in the campaign financing, yet, not only stayed on in the campaign, but became Rep Waldholtz' Washington Chief of Staff until the scandal made it clear that Rep Waldholz was not going to be reelected. In 1996 when Mr. Harmer ran for her Utah CD02 seat, he distanced himself from the scandal by saying "She has no one to blame but herself."

Sounds like a politician to me – one who knew when to ignore the "cash flow and financial accounting problems" he'd identified, one who then stuck with his candidate so he could become known in Washington, one who knew when to scramble out of range of fallout, and one who knew when to point the finger away from himself so that he could run for the vacated office.

Web Link
Web Link

In 2009 Mr. Harmer ran for office in the 10th District Congressional seat runoff. During this campaign, Mr. Harmer hired as his Campaign Manager, Michael Caporusso, who was also the Executive Director of the Contra Costa Republican Party (CCRP). As the Executive Director of the Contra Costa GOP, Mr. Caporusso had influence over CD10 funding and candidate support. Mr. Caporusso maintained both jobs for a period of time. Conflict of interest? Maybe, maybe not, but definitely a smart politician who knew where to get his GOP bread buttered in Contra Costa.

Mr. Harmer lost the 2009 election to John Garamendi in the 10th District. Now he's running against McNerney in the 11th. Mr. Harmer said in a recent interview, "It looks bad. I just ran last year. People must think, 'That guy really must want to get elected to something.' He claims he was "recruited" to run in CD11. Unlike CD10 which remains mostly Democratic, CD11 is split between Republicans and Democrats. So, even though Mr. Harmer doesn't live in CD11, as a politician he thinks he has a better chance of being elected here. Web Link

I don't think there can be any doubt that Mr. Harmer is just as he has described "a career politician in search of a place to serve."

Posted by dublinmike, a resident of Dublin
on May 22, 2010 at 5:01 pm

dublinmike is a registered user.

Mike, a resident of the Del Prado, thank you pointing out the Mrs. Clinton MOVED to NY as did former Mayor Guy Houston in MOVING to Livermore. At least they lived in their district or state.

Amy, I know what the California constitution states about residency. I prefer someone living in my district.

And, what about the valid candidacies of Ms. Emken and Mr. Amador?
What I would like to read is why you are endorsing Mr. Harmer over Ms. Emken and Mr. Amador. Have you forgotten that this is a Primary Election for a Republican candidate?

And Amy, your comments referencing dog crap only shows your level of intelligence.

Posted by jimf01, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

Thanks Rae for your extensive info on David Harmer's career. Would you call George Stephanopoulos a career politician?

Worked for a Congressman right out of college, worked on the Dukakis and Clinton campaign and of course was a White House Adviser. Never elected, you could not call him a career politician.

Would history call Abraham Lincoln a carpetbagger? Moved from his home state of Kentucky, failed in his first election bid in which the top four of a field of 13 were elected. Lincoln ran 8th.

Now I am not comparing David Harmer to either man, there are plenty of comparable career stories. Point is, someone who works in politics is not a politician unless elected. Likewise, losing an election doesn't make one unworthy of political office.

I shouldn't bother with you any longer Rae, as I am certain you are not going to be marking a Republican ballot for this primary election. I will have plenty of opportunities to compare David Harmer to Jerry McNerney between now and November. I am proud to be supporting David Harmer, the only candidate in this primary who is not slinging mud against his opponents.
We need honorable individuals in the Congress. I have met David Harmer and see him to be an honorable man.

Posted by Rae, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 24, 2010 at 7:29 am

"jimf01" said: "We need honorable individuals in the Congress."

I agree. We need honorable politicians leading the country, our state and our district.

Mr. Harmer, who, as Campaign Manager and Financial Director of a Congressional campaign, turned a blind eye to the illegal financing of that campaign, is not that person.

I can certainly see, however, why he's the ideal candidate from the Republican/Tea Party perspective!

Posted by Ron, a resident of Las Positas
on May 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Jerry McNerney has been a fantastic rep and has earned the respect and appreciation for his hard work from the voters in District 11. We expect to reward him and return him to Congress to keep up the good work. Thank you Jerry McNerney!!!

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