tags: Targeted Races

McNerney (D-CA-11)

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RESULT: Jerry McNerney (D) 55% – Dean Andal (R) 45% 

The Race:

Wind engineer Jerry McNerney beat 14-year incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-CA, by seven points in what The Cook Report called “one of the most surprising upsets of the 2006 cycle.” [The Cook Report, accessed 8/20/08] McNerney lost by 22 points in 2004 but came back in 2006 when Pombo was tied to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and made campaign mistakes. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/06; San Francisco Chronicle, 11/5/06] This year, McNerney is defending his seat against former state Assemblyman Dean Andal, who has half as much cash on hand according to Inside Politics. [Inside Politics, 7/31/08] Andal is a veteran of California politics and according to the Contra Costa Times, “Those who know him say he’s a smart and savvy campaigner who will waste no time lobbying East Bay Republicans for their votes.” [Contra Costa Times, 5/16/07] However, some reports say that Andal has been a fundraising disappointment. Politico reported, “One of the most highly touted GOP House recruits is turning out to be one of the party’s weakest fundraisers, a development that has national Republicans wondering whether a prime opportunity to pick off a vulnerable Democratic freshman is slipping away.” [Politico.com, 7/21/08]
Although immigration has not emerged as a major issue in the race, the State Republican Party has attacked McNerney and his fellow Democrats for failing to “tackle the problem of illegal immigration and [allegedly] breaking House rules to deliver taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants.” [California Republican Party, 11/1/07]

The McNerney Position:

VAGUE SUPPORT FOR COMPREHENSIVE REFORM. According to The Stockton Record, McNerney’s views on immigration have shifted over time. He “toughened his stance on illegal immigration since he began running for office in 2004; he’s the only San Joaquin Valley sponsor of the SAVE Act, a bill with 132 co-sponsors that beefs up border patrol facilities and funds a national database so employers can check the immigration status of their job applicants,” the newspaper said. [The Stockton Record, 1/15/08]

However, McNerney continues to tout what he calls a “balanced approach” to immigration reform. The Modesto Bee quoted him as saying, “Border security is certainly a big part of the solution but we need to be able to (supply) workers where needed. We have farmers who have (had cases of) produce rotting on trees, and we need to make sure they have the workers they need.” McNerney has advocated for a legal way to allow migrant workers into the country and a way for the undocumented immigrants already in the country to come out of the shadows. [Modesto Bee, 1/15/08]

Recently, McNerney has reiterated support for a comprehensive and common-sense approach to immigration reform. McNerney’s campaign website states, “It’s clear today that our immigration system is broken. To reform it, we need a comprehensive, common-sense approach that addresses the full range of issues under consideration; beginning with securing our nation’s borders…I support increased funding for our border patrol and investment in surveillance and enforcement technology…As part of this, we must strengthen penalties for employers and contractors who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. We also need a stronger verification system to monitor and crack down on illegal trafficking at our borders.” However, the candidate’s web site does not mention his proposal to deal with the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country or legal immigration reforms that go beyond enforcement [Jerry McNerney for Congress, accessed 8/12/08]

The Andal Position:

UNKNOWN. Andal has attacked McNerney for being soft on immigration. Politico reported, “Andal argued that the issue of illegal immigration would also play a major role. McNerney was one of the deciding Democratic votes last September in blocking a GOP-backed measure that would have enforced laws barring illegal immigrants from receiving certain federally funded benefits.” [Politico.com, 7/21/08] Despite this claim from candidate Andal, he lists no immigration position on his campaign web site.

In the state legislature, Andal sponsored a bill that called on the federal government to bear the costs of illegal immigration for states. [Inside Bay Area, 9/9/07]

As a state Assemblyman, Dean Andal took an anti-immigrant stance when he “shipped to the news media the results of a survey he said indicates the need for action,” according to the Modesto Bee. The story went on to say, “Andal, standing this year for election to a second full term, said a survey of 12,500 people in his district shows overwhelming support for reduced rights for illegal immigrants and for National Guard troops on the border.” [Modesto Bee, 5/1/94] Andal also sided with parents who picketed against investing $4,000 to send teachers to Mexico to aid migrant children’s English. “The program came under fire when first proposed last winter,” the Modesto Bee reported. “Several parents picketed the campus, saying the district had no right to spend $4,000 to send teachers to Mexico. Assemblyman Dean Andal, R-Stockton, got into the fray, siding with those parents.” [Modesto Bee, 10/29/94]

California 11th