California: Local Sheriff Weighs Race Against McNerney

Posted June 15, 2009 at 5:21pm

As soon as Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) was nominated for a top job at the State Department earlier this spring, Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., and California said Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf would probably be the GOP’s strongest contender in the special election to replace her.

But according to an account in the Contra Costa Times this week, Rupf is much more likely to challenge Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) in an adjoining East Bay district than try to succeed Tauscher in what has become a Democratic stronghold.

Rupf told the newspaper that he flew to Washington recently to meet with officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee about the 11th district race.

McNerney won 55 percent of the vote last year and 53 percent in 2006, when he ousted then-Rep. Richard Pombo (R). But the district, while shifting — it gave President Barack Obama 54 percent of the vote in 2008 — is far more conservative than Tauscher’s.

Rupf, who is elected sheriff in nonpartisan elections, will have to weigh whether he’s prepared for partisan warfare — and whether he’s willing to give up his 40-year career in law enforcement.

“There are not enough hours in the day to deal with all the problems,— Rupf told the Times. “But given the fact that many of the funding solutions, by default, seem to have migrated to Washington, I am giving serious thought to the idea that I might have to go to Washington to fix the things that I deal with daily around here.—