Sunday, May 2, 2010

Handicapping the 11th District race

If signs dotting San Joaquin County are any indication, the race for the Republican Party primary election in June is down to Brad Goehring and David Harmer.

Their campaign signs and slogans dot major intersections -- as well as lesser-known stretches -- from Lodi to Tracy. But in this race, localized signs don't really mean much in terms of who's building significant support.

The 11th District is a classic gerrymander, originally engineered to secure a Republican seat in Congress. Changing demographics mean that the district is now split nearly evenly between Democrats and Republicans (there's also a significant number of independent-identifying voters). But those far-reaching boundaries -- which include Danville, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Tracy, Lodi, parts of Stockton and rural San Joaquin County -- remain.

So candidates come from around the district. So sometimes the lack of signage could mean something, sometimes it probably doesn't.

It probably doesn't for Elizabeth Emken, who lives in Danville. Far over the hill, so it's not unreasonable to suggest her power base lies in the western half of the district.

And Goehring is a large landholder in northeastern San Joaquin County. So it's no surprise he has a fair amount of local support.

But Tony Amador, who's from Lodi, seems to not have generated too much sign-buzz around the county.

As for Harmer, who is from San Ramon, his signs on this side of the Altamont Hills could mean he's got an edge in campaigning.

I expect Harmer to have the most refined political machine, however, as he is fresh off a failed 2009 campaign for Caifornia's 10th Congressional District. He also made a run for Congress in Utah in 1996, again unsuccessfully. He knows his way around a campaign, so it's no surprise he's focused on reaching "far-from-home" areas in his district.

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