California's 9th District race heats up

October 30, 2012 7:26:04 PM PDT
In the battle over control in the House of Representatives, only one race in the Bay Area is considered a toss-up. That's the one between incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton and Republican challenger Ricky Gill. ABC7 sat down with both men to talk about the issues.

McNerney is a three-term congressmen who is running in a new district, in fact, he had to move because his new district did not include his old hometown of Pleasanton where he used to live.

McNerney is walking the streets of his new hometown. Hi old district was redrawn to make it more compact. While the new one has more registered Democrats, it's also a lot more in the Central Valley, requiring McNerney to move from Pleasanton to Stockton.

"I've moved in, my things are there, we can go over there right now if you want to see," said McNerney.

If he's a little touchy on the subject, it's because his opponent, Gill, is the son of a farming family who is pushing his rural roots.

"My opponent is someone from Alameda County and this district has been shifted largely to San Joaquin County and East Contra Costa County," said Gill.

Gill's TV ads are all about that message and he's got support from farming groups including the California Farm Bureau.

"They endorsed me. I want to be pro trade. I want to support regulatory relief efforts," said Gill.

McNerney didn't want to talk much about that endorsement. He said, "I can't really speak to the Farm Bureau, but I've continued to work for them."

He's much more comfortable talking about the number one farm issue in this part of the valley -- preventing delta water from going south.

"We've stood shoulder to shoulder against the governor, against Sen. Feinstein, against the Obama administration who want to put in the peripheral canal. I can tell you what, we're going to prevent that from happening," said McNerney.

Gill accuses McNerney of coming late to position. He said, "My opponent never mentioned the word peripheral canal or now peripheral tunnel as it's called -- there's been a change in term. He never mentioned these words on the floor of Congress until the summer of 2011."

And Gill points to McNerney's vote against three free trade agreements.

"That's a clear case of someone who is not from here voting against the interests of this district," said Gill.

McNerney says the agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama failed to protect workers.

"They're allowing conditions for worker there that are absolutely unacceptable to Americans and to American workers and to American standards," said McNerney.

It's part of his TV advertising and he's talking up that issue with voters.

"So much of our manufacturing is going overseas. I think some of our trade agreements have been hurtful to our country," said McNerney to a voter.

However, in this district race big business interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have been coming in on behalf of Gill.

"The third quarter, he outraised me by a couple hundred thousand, yes," said McNerney.

Gill acknowledges outside help by saying, "I think these groups just tend to move toward competitive races and it's something they decided on their own accord."

McNerney contends it won't matter by saying, "Our polling shows I have a lead and our pollsters are legitimate pollsters."

McNerney is the incumbent and the race is likely his to lose. But Gill is right that money follows on close races and there has been plenty of money coming into California's 9th Congressional District -- $3 million from outside groups supporting Gill. That's more than Gill has raised on his own. Around half a million has come in to support McNerney.


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