Monday, August 22, 2011

McNerney's homegrown challenge

Ricky Gill, the bright political up-and-comer challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney in the 9th District in 2012, opened his campaign with a salvo this morning, buying full-page ads featuring an open letter in two 9th District newspapers (Mountain House is in the 9th District, Tracy is in the 10th).

He came out swinging, mostly focusing on his in-district credentials, while painting McNerney as an out-of-town, and out-of-touch, carpetbagger:

"The fact is, Jerry McNerney has had five years to learn about and address our valley issues, and he just hasn't done the job. A first step in turning around our local economy is to stop outsourcing our Congressional representation in Washington to the East Bay. ... If you remember one thing about me from this letter, it's that I'm running for Congress not just to vote on your behalf, but to lead on behalf of our entire community." (emphais his)

At first glance, his letter is a powerful statement in favor of San Joaquin County residents. On second, closer look, it's a mixed bag.

He's absolutely right that San Joaquin County and the Delta region require their own voice in Congress, someone who knows the issues here and is dedicated to addressing them and fighting for its residents. But is homegrown synonymous with local knowledge?

Gill's examples that highlight McNerney's out-of-town status could be viewed as McNerney's ignorance of local issues — or they could equally be viewed as McNerney's informed stances that don't jibe with Gills'. I'd say it's more the latter than the former, but that's my personal take.

Ultimately, it'll be up for voters to decide whether Gill, a Lodi native, is the best man to represent the region's interests; if McNerney, with several years experience representing most of San Joaquin County can do the best job; or if that distinction lies with somebody else.

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