Pleasanton Weekly

News - December 3, 2010

It's over! McNerney re-elected

Final vote gives congressman a 1.1% edge over Republican challenger David Harmer

by Jeb Bing

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) is back in Washington, now the official winner of the Nov. 2 election that saw him gain a third term in office with a full 1% lead over his Republican challenger Harmer.

All absentee and provisional votes have now been counted in the four counties the 11th Congressional District covers.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen reported that in the final count McNerney had received 115,361 votes, or 48% of the total number of votes cast, against Harmer's 112,703 votes, or 46.9%. American Independent Party candidate David Christensen had 12,439 votes, or 5.1%.

The four counties that reported their final vote tallies this week as required were Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Santa Clara.

Voter turnout for the 11th Congressional District contest ranged from a high of 66.1% in Contra Costa County to a low of 59.9% in San Joaquin.

Bowen said her office will certify the outcome by next Monday.

As of press time late Wednesday, there was no word out of Harmer's office if he was going to accept the results and concede the race to McNerney, or if he might ask for a recount. A recount can be requested, but Harmer would have to pay the bill, which could be expensive in the sprawling 11th District.

In the last several weeks, he has marshaled his supporters and solicited funds to pay for a recount if one is needed.

But McNerney, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics, said he knew he would win all along. He used his skills early after the polls closed with thousands of provisional and late-filed absentee ballots yet to be counted in each of the four counties.

Yet, even with a point spread of less than 1%, he held a press conference Nov. 11 to announce that his analysis showed his lead was already insurmountable, and he declared himself a winner.

But Harmer questioned the math. With most of the uncounted ballots still in Contra Costa County, a Harmer stronghold, he felt he could overtake McNerney.

The next week, the week before Thanksgiving, both McNerney and Harmer traveled to Washington, D.C., McNerney to take his seat in the reconvened 111th session of Congress and Harmer to attend a briefing for newly elected congressional candidates. They returned for Thanksgiving here with still no results certified by the California Secretary of State.

Harmer's wife Elayne, quipped that being a mother of four, the uncertainty of the contest has taken her back to her childbirth days.

"It's like you've reached your due date," she said, "and the doctor walks in and says you've got to wait another three or four weeks. And then the doc throws in this caveat: 'And you might not keep the baby.'"

Such was life on the campaign trail that refused to end long after the polls closed, until now.

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