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California - 11th District

Incumbent -- Jerry McNerney (D) ; Running for re-election

Tossup
Race Ratings Key

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

McNerney is running his second re-election race in California's top swing district, which was the only one to change party hands in the Democratic year of 2006. In fact, that was the only time any California district switched since the redrawing of the districts following the 2000 census.

McNerney's grass-roots campaign that year, along with a national tide benefiting Democrats, led him to topple then-Rep. Richard Pombo (R). Two years later, President Barack Obama won the district with 54 percent -- the same percentage George W. Bush took in 2004.

This cycle, McNerney is the incumbent facing a headwind. His opponent, David Harmer (R), is an attorney who last year fell 10 points short of winning the special election in the neighboring 10th district.

Harmer, whose father served as lieutenant governor under then-Gov. Ronald Reagan (R), is running on the theme that "Washington isn't working" and notes the district's high unemployment and foreclosure rates as reasons for change.

McNerney's first ad targeted military veterans, who make up nearly 9 percent of the district's population. Heading into the final weeks, the incumbent's strong fundraising will be an advantage, while Harmer's past tenure at JPMorgan Chase could be raised as a negative issue for him.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

A mix of commuter bedroom communities east of the San Francisco Bay and inland agricultural country, the wrench-shaped 11th runs along Interstate 680 and south past San Jose, while the north end surrounds Stockton on three sides (central Stockton is in the 18th District).

The 11th includes nearly half of Stockton's residents and almost all of surrounding San Joaquin County, where high-end development is overtaking farmland. Gridlock plagued Stockton during the technology boom, as Bay Area commuters were pushed to the city. Traffic remains a concern, and hourlong trips to San Jose or San Francisco can take twice as long during rush hour. The high-tech bust a decade ago and the more recent housing market collapse left the Stockton area vulnerable.

Dairy products and wine grapes are the primary agricultural goods here. Lodi leads the state in production of several premium wine grapes, many of which are shipped to the Napa Valley for bottling. The agriculture sector in San Joaquin County has come under scrutiny because of local air pollution resulting from the raising of livestock and transportation of farm products. Agricultural exports travel through the trucking centers of Lodi and Tracy on their way out of the 11th. The port of Stockton on the San Joaquin River specializes in bulk cargo, and cement is the main import.

Friendly to some GOP candidates, the moderate 11th gave George W. Bush 54 percent of its 2004 presidential vote, but Democrat Barack Obama won the district with the same percentage in 2008. In 2010, the 11th was the only district represented by a Democrat to back Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

Major Industry

Agriculture, technology, service

Military Bases

Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, 27 military, 2,677 civilian (2007)

Cities

Stockton (pt.), 137,118; Tracy, 82,922; Manteca, 67,096

notable

The museum operated by the San Joaquin County Historical Society, in Lodi, boasts a working blacksmith's shop.

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