by Tara Siler
Democrat Jerry McNerney’s victory in the 9th Congressional District comes despite predictions that his San Joaquin Valley race with newcomer Ricky Gill might be a toss-up.
By the time Gill called McNerney and conceded defeat early Wednesday morning, most people had already left the Democratic celebration. McNerney’s staff erupted in cheers and lit cigars.
In 2010, McNerney’s re-election took days to determine as results came in, and he said the early call from Gill was a relief.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t be waiting another two or three days for the results and its pretty decisive now. The voters have spoken and I appreciate that and the confidence they’ve given me and I want nothing more than to serve this community and do the best I can to make a difference in people’s lives.”
“I think he’s been very good to the community he comes back to,” said Laurie Mitnik, a substitute teacher from Stockton. “His door is open to people who want to talk to him. He’s very approachable.”
McNerney continues to have his work cut out for him. Stockton’s unemployment rate is more than 13 percent, the city recently declared bankruptcy and crime is soaring. McNerney said he plans to hit the ground running.
“I will not hold back,” said McNerney. “If I can find a grant, I will help my constituents get that grant. I want to bring federal dollars back to my district because we need it here.”
Throughout the campaign McNerney fought Gill’s depiction of him as a carpetbagger who moved to Stockton from Pleasanton because his district was redrawn. McNerney countered that his 25- year old challenger had far too little experience.
Outside conservative groups spent some $3 million to unseat McNerney. Unsuccessfully.