49-year old former state assemblyman Dean Andal is a conservative from the City of Stockton in the eastern part of the 11th district. The incumbent, 57-year old Jerry McNerney is a democrat from the western district town of Pleasanton.
In 2006, McNerney defeated seven-term congressman Richard Pombo in a district that leans republican and twice went for President Bush.
This time McNerney is counting on Bush's unpopularity to help him win re-election.
"The republican brand is fairly dirtied up," McNerney told ABC7, while pointing out the war in Iraq, the environment and the economy.
"The economy is the big one that overshadows everything else because Stockton as you know is the foreclosure capital," he added.
One big difference between McNerney and Andal is the $700 billion bailout bill. Andal calls the government bailout a waste of money. McNerney calls it a necessity.
"My first reason for opposing the bailout bill is pretty evident right now. It didn't work. The credit markets didn't magically improve overnight like they were expected to do when they passed the bill," said Andal.
"The recovery package will help people stay in their homes. That's important," said McNerney who think the waste of money has been the war in Iraq. He won his seat opposing the war and voted against funding it without timelines for bringing the troops home.
Andal calls McNerney's vote immoral saying, "The appropriations bills that actually passed and paid for the troops support, Jerry McNerney voted against that bill three times and I think that's immoral."
Andal supports off-shore oil drilling. McNerney says oil companies should take advantage of the leases they already hold.
Andal supports Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage. At the candidates-only debate he pressed McNerney to take a stand saying, "I'd be happy to leave my remaining time for Jerry to tell us whether he's for or against Proposition 8."
McNerney replied "I'm against Proposition 8 because I'm against discrimination of Americans in this country period."
There was a raucous response from the partisan crowd at that debate in Tracy, although most people we talked to in Tracy couldn't tell us who is running.
Our political analyst says that both candidates airing television ads and sending out mailers is typical of congressional races. The Republican National Committee has been sending reporters hit pieces on McNerney since the day he took office.
With the party's help, McNerney has raised more than $2 million, twice as much as Andal. The Republican Party has not been willing to donate what it would take to close that 2-to-1 advantage.
The fact is that the Republican Party is spending its money to protect incumbents.
This promises to be a tough year for republicans. So much so, Andal is playing down his party affiliation.
"I don't believe that if I'm privileged to represent the people in congress, that I'm a republican congressman. I'm first and foremost an American," said Andal.
Andal believes he has enough in his war chest to win this campaign. Although, the independent non-partisan Cook Report which rates congressional races across the country is giving McNerney a slight edge in what is expected to be a close race.