Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) has clearly won his re-election bid against Republican challenger David Harmer, finishing a full 1% ahead of Harmer with almost all absentee and provisional votes counted in the four counties the district covers.
At 3:37 p.m. Wednesday, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen reported that with fewer than 2,000 votes yet to be counted, McNerney had received 113,969 votes, or 48% of the total number of votes cast, against Harmer's 111,494 votes, or 46.9%. American Independent Party candidate David Christensen had 12,345 votes, or 5.1%.
But while the last votes counted in San Joaquin County failed to overcome McNerney's lead in Alameda and Santa Clara County, Harmer said he won't concede at this time.
"San Joaquin County accounts for over half the population of the 11th Congressional District," Harmer said in a statement late Wednesday. "The numbers reported on Tuesday confirm that I carried San Joaquin County by a solid margin. At present, it appears unlikely that my margin of victory in San Joaquin and Contra Costa Counties will be large enough to overcome the deficits in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. But we don't yet know for sure."
"Given the protracted delay in reporting the results of absentee and provisional ballots, and the fact that thousands of ballots still remain to be counted, pressure to concede is unseemly," Harmer added. "Every legitimate vote should be accurately counted. Having waited three weeks for partial results, we can wait one more week for final numbers."
"Likewise," he continued, "we can't decide whether to request a recount until we know the original district-wide count. As of now, no one does."
The 11th Congressional District race has been one of the closest in the country. Harmer's defeat appeared certain Wednesday when the registrar of San Joaquin County, Harmer's stronghold, finished counting the last 7,000 absentee and provisional ballots. The San Ramon attorney's lead decreased from 4.3% earlier to 3.6%, far below what he needed to overcome McNerney's strong lead in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.
McNerney aide Sarah Hersh said the results made it clear that the congressman has been re-elected.
The Associated Press agreed, transmitting a story saying that McNerney has won the 11th Congressional District race.
This will be McNerney's third term in Congress. He defeated longtime Republican incumbent Richard Pombo on 2006 and carried the 11th District by a wide margin in 2008.
Both McNerney and Harmer have been in Washington this past week—McNerney at a pre-Thanksgiving session of Congress and Harmer to attend a briefing for incoming, newly-elected Republicans.
McNerney said he will return to Washington for a final session of the 111th Congress in December and now will also go back as the district's representative in the 112th Congress when it convenes n January.
All counties have until next Tuesday to give a final count to the Secretary of State's office, which will certify the outcome by Dec. 6.