Fate uncertain for McNerney, Harmer

November 4, 2010 8:17:18 PM PDT
A very close congressional race in the East Bay is still undecided.

Out of approximately 170,000 votes counted so far, Democrat Jerry McNerney leads Republican David Harmer by 134 -- unless you ask jerry McNerney.

"Well we're up by 238 votes, so we've gained in the last couple of days," he said.

McNerney's number comes from calling the election offices at the individual counties that make up the 11th Congressional District, which include Contra Costa, Alameda, San Joaquini and Santa Clara.

Harmer believes he'll eventually retake the lead.

"Because a tremendous number of the uncounted ballots are in the areas where our performance was strong," he said.

But neither candidate knows where the bulk of the uncounted votes are coming from because the county election offices don't break out the ballots by congressional districts.

Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir thinks the number of uncounted 11th District ballots is somewhere around 20,000.

"We're not going to know the result of this until at least Wednesday of next week, and if it's close Wednesday of next week, after Thanksgiving," he said.

So both men are in limbo.

"It's frustrating, but you just got to stay strong and have faith, and it comes through," McNerney said.

"It's uncomfortable, you know, you'd rather be up or down. Our view is, we will gratefully accept the verdict of the voters," Harmer said.

But on Wednesday, Harmer sent an e-mail to supporters saying, "As of 4:09 a.m. pacific time, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, we led by 23 votes then. In the preliminary final count, the incumbent suddenly jumped ahead. If that sounds suspicious, it is. We have reason for serious concern about the integrity of the count and the security of the ballots in some areas."

"We received numerous reports of malfunctioning voting machines, for example, and we've asked people to forward those to the appropriate authorities," Harmer said.

But beyond that, Harmer doesn't have an example

"I said I have concerns and of course, I do. I've explained what the concerns were, and now we're going to make sure that all the votes are property counted," he said.

Weir says he hasn't heard of a single complaint that would justify harmer's concern for the integrity of the vote count.

If Harmer was attempting to raise fears, it wouldn't be the first time that tactic has been used to motivate supporters. The e-mail went out as a pitch for campaign contributions.


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