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California's 11th congressional district election, 2006

California's 11th congressional district election, 2006

November 7, 2006

Nominee Jerry McNerney Richard Pombo
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 109,868 96,396
Percentage 53.3% 46.7%

Representative before election

Richard Pombo

Elected Representative

Jerry McNerney

The 2006 California 11th congressional district election was an election for the United States House of Representatives in California's 11th congressional district. The two major party candidates were longtime Republican incumbent Richard Pombo and Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney. Both faced serious challenges in their respective primaries, on June 6, 2006.[1]

In the November 7, 2006, general election, this race ordinarily would have been considered a safe Republican seat, since Pombo won reelection in 2004 by a comfortable 61% to 39% margin against McNerney. However, due to a contentious primary, a nationwide movement to oust Republicans, and strong organization by the McNerney campaign, the race became increasingly competitive over the course of the campaign season. In early October, changed their rating of this race from Republican Favored to Leans Republican.[2]


  • Primary campaign and results 1
    • Republican 1.1
    • Democratic 1.2
  • General campaign 2
    • Polls and ratings 2.1
      • Polling 2.1.1
    • Results 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Primary campaign and results


Pombo was challenged in the primary by former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey, perhaps best known for challenge to Richard Nixon's re-election bid in 1972. McCloskey last ran for office in 1982, when he left the San Francisco Bay Area House seat he had held for 16 years to run for a U.S. Senate seat (he lost in the primary). McCloskey had been endorsed by the Sacramento Bee, the San Jose Mercury News, and the League of Conservation Voters.

McCloskey attacked Pombo on the Iraq war as well as Pombo's ethics and longstanding reputation as an anti-environmentalist. Critics of Pombo noted that as chair of the House Resources Committee, "Pombo has been an advocate of easing land-use regulations throughout his House career, and is spearheading efforts to scale back the Endangered Species Act (which McCloskey helped author in 1973)."[3] A third candidate joined the race, businessman Thomas A. Benigno, who had run against Pombo and received 13 percent of the vote in the 2002 Republican primary.

California's 11th congressional district Republican primary, 2006
Candidate Votes Percentage
Richard Pombo (incumbent) 35,493 62.4%
Pete McCloskey 18,132 31.9%
Tom A. Benigno 3,263 5.7%
Total votes 56,888 100.0%


There were three Democratic challengers running for the Democratic nomination: Steve Filson, a Navy veteran and former airline pilot; Gerald M. "Jerry" McNerney, a wind turbine company CEO who won 39 percent of the general election vote against Pombo in 2004, as the Democratic nominee; and Steve Thomas, an electrician and anti-war activist. Party insiders were split, with McNerney endorsed by the California Democratic Party and Filson backed by the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.[4]

McNerney won the election with just over half of the vote.

California's 11th congressional district Democratic primary, 2006
Candidate Votes Percentage
Jerry McNerney 23,598 52.8%
Steve Filson 12,744 28.5%
Steve Thomas 8,390 18.7%
Total votes 44,732 100.0%

General campaign

As of June 30, 2006, Pombo had raised $2.2 million for his reelection campaign and had $939,000 on hand. McNerney had raised $449,000 and had $152,000 in cash as of that date.[5] Even though Pombo generally votes against pro-labor legislation,[6] Unite Here, representing 90,000 workers in the gaming industry, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, an AFL-CIO affiliate, each donated $10,000 to Pombo's 2006 campaign.[7] Pombo had a 4:1 advantage in terms of "cash-on-hand."[8] McNerney was helped by the presence of many environmental 501c4 organizations working to defeat Pombo, including Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, Sierra Club, League of Conservation voters, and Clean Water Action.

In late July, Republicans McCloskey and Thomas Benigno endorsed McNerney.[9][10]

In September, the Swing State Project reported "The NRCC wouldn't drop over a quarter of a million dollars on this seat if McNerney wasn't threatening Pombo in their internal polls".[8]

Signalling the closeness of the race, both candidates received late-season campaign support from national political figures. In early November, former President Laura Bush both campaigned for Pombo in the last month before the election.[11]

Polls and ratings

In September, the Rothenberg Political report changed its evaluation of the race from "Republican safe" to "Republican favored".[12] On October 3, 2006 a poll commissioned by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund was released that showed McNerney leading Pombo 48 percent to 46 percent.[13] It is known that two polls were commissioned by the NRCC, but results were not released. In early October, changed their rating of this race from Republican Favored to Leans Republican.[14] In late October, the Cook Political Report rated it "toss up".[15]


Source Date McNerney (D) Pombo (R) Undecided
= rss Constituent Dynamics and RT Strategies November 1, 2006 48% 46%
Majority Watch October 24-6, 2006 48% 46%
Lake Research Partners October 21, 2006 40% 41%
= /20061003/NEWS01/610030336/1001 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner October 3, 2006 48% 46%


The Democratic nominee, Jerry McNerney, in the general election, again faced incumbent Pombo. This election was held on November 7, 2006, and McNerney won 53% to 47% percent. While Pombo narrowly defeated McNerney in heavily Republican San Joaquin County, which makes up a majority of the district's population; McNerney defeated Pombo in the other three counties by wide margins, more than making up for his loss in San Joaquin.

California's 11th congressional district election, 2006[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jerry McNerney 109,868 53.27
Republican Richard Pombo (incumbent) 96,396 46.73
Total votes 206,264 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ "United States Representative in Congress" (PDF). June 6, 2006 Statewide Primary Election - Statement of Vote.  
  2. ^ Ryan Kelly (2006-10-03). "Competitive Race Lies Beneath Flurry of GOP Activity in Calif. 11". 
  3. ^ Rachel Kapochunas (2006-01-24). "CA 11: Party Elder's Comeback Bid Could Make Pombo Stumble". 
  4. ^ Rachel Kapochunas (2006-05-19). "CA 11: Pombo's Re-Election Bid Lures in Environmentalist Foes". 
  5. ^ Associated Press (2006-07-17). "Pombo, Doolittle lead rivals in latest campaign finance reports". 
  6. ^ Vote Smart - labor organization ratings of Pombo
  7. ^ Top Contributors, California District 11, 2006 race,
  8. ^ a b "The Sweet 16 Congressional Races, 2006".  
  9. ^ Rebecca F. Johnson (2006-07-27). "McCloskey endorses McNerney Republican gives Democrat the thumbs up". Oakland Tribune. 
  10. ^ Pete McCloskey (2006-07-28). "Republican Says We Need A Dem Congress". web log. Dave Johnson. 
  11. ^ Gordon, Rachel (2006-11-04). "Turnout called key in race for Pombo's seat, Laura Bush, Bill Clinton show up to influence competitive race". San Francisco Chronicle. p. B1. Retrieved 2006-11-05. 
  12. ^ Lisa Vorderbrueggen (2006-09-23). "News and observations, some serious, some not, on the East Bay political scene". ContraCostaTimes Politics Weblog. 
  13. ^ Hank Shaw (2006-10-03). "Poll shows Pombo, McNerney just 2 points apart".  
  14. ^ Ryan Kelly (2006-10-03). "Competitive Race Lies Beneath Flurry of GOP Activity in Calif. 11". 
  15. ^ Gordon, Rachel (2006-10-31). "Pombo-McNerney race a toss up, according to report". SFGate Politics Blog (San Francisco Chronicle). Retrieved 2006-11-05. 
  16. ^ "United States House of Representatives" (PDF).  

External links

  • Jerry McNerney's campaign site
  • Center for Citizen Media's VoteGuide
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