By Tim Hunt
McNerney hangs it up after eight termsUploaded: Jan 20, 2022
One-time Pleasanton resident Jerry McNerney announced he is retiring from Congress this week. McNerney won election in 2006, topping Republican incumbent Richard Pombo. The 11th district stretched from Pombo’s home turf in Tracy and San Joaquin County into the Tri-Valley. Pombo left himself vulnerable because he focused on the significant national issue of reforming the Endangered Species Act and did not pay enough attention to local issues and needs.
McNerney rode the Democrat wave in 2006 to the upset victory. He withstood strong Republican challengers in his first two re-election campaigns. He worked hard at building relationships locally by returning home nearly every weekend to hold formal and informal events. That footwork paid dividends as he beat quality Republican challengers in his next two re-election campaigns.
That changed after the 2010 census when redistricting put him in the same district with out-of-touch Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark. Stark lived in Maryland and rarely showed up in the district other than proforma campaign appearances. Instead of taking on Stark, McNerney moved to the San Joaquin County and ran successfully for Congress there. He was elected five times, giving him a total of eight terms in the house.
McNerney announcement set up dominoes with Democrat Congressman Josh Harder quickly announcing plans to run in the district McNerney is leaving. That prompted Assemblyman Adam Gray to announce his candidacy for Congress in the district that Harder previously had been targeting.
Not the first of the musical chairs that the redrawn districts will set off across the country.
In the Tri-Valley, new Congressional District 10, presumably the one that incumbent Mark DeSaulnier’s will run in, includes San Ramon, Danville and most of Dublin and then connects north in Central Contra Costa County.
Congressional District 14 includes Livermore, Pleasanton, the remainder of Dublin and runs west to the bayside of Alameda County. Presumably incumbent Eric Swalwell, D-Livermore, will stand for re-election in this district. Swalwell, before veering hard left to win favor from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, defeated 20-term incumbent Stark in 2012. Swalwell had the temerity to jump into the race against the long-tenured (“serving” would be a misnomer) Stark and, thanks to the no-party primary, finished second in the June primary to earn a spot in the November runoff.
Running to the right of Stark and undoubtedly benefitting from the anyone-but-Pete sentiment in the district, Swalwell won the upset and has been in Congress since.