Rep. Jerry McNerney's office this week released a statement that tells you all you need to know about how the congressman is going to defend his 11th District seat against a group of eager Republican challengers. He's depending on moderation.
The statement sent out to the Press and other news outfits touts a "National Review" rating of Congress that, according to McNerney communications director Sarah Hersh, as "as the most moderate of California’s House members." (I tried to verify the rating myself, but couldn't access the subscribers-only portion of the NR Web site.)
Regardless of what that rating actually means in terms of ideology and policy — and there are plenty of ways these ratings are a poor indicator of ideological affiliation — the media release shows that McNerney is staking his position as a "centrist" candidate, which is a smart move considering his congressional district is about as evenly split between registered Democrat and Republican voters as you can get.
This could have serious implications in the November election. Right now, the GOP challengers are painting themselves as the best conservative for the job, while trying to tar-and-feather McNerney as a Nancy Pelosi-following liberal. McNerney, I'll wager, will try to turn this against whatever Republican emerges from the June 8 primary by slamming that person as a wingnut who's too far to the right to represent a district so ideologically balanced.
But when the race and rhetoric heat up, remember that things like "liberal," "conservative" and "moderate" are just hype.
What really matters is voting record; plans and actions for boosting communities within the 11th District; and a consistent, coherent ideology regarding the role of government.