Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) has declared victory in his bid for re-election to a third term in Congress even as thousands of ballots are still being counted and with a winning margin of less than 1 percent over his Republican challenger David Harmer.
At 4:19 p.m. yesterday, however, Secretary of State Debra Bowen continued to call it a "closse race."
The vote at that time, she reported, shows McNerney with 110,548 votes, or still at 47.9%, nchanged from Thursday, Harmer with 108,858 votes, or 47.0%, and American Independent party candidate David Christensen as of late yesterday had received 11,823 votes, or 5.1%.
With campaign supporters chanting "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry" and a roomful of media reporters on hand Thursday afternoon, McNerney said, "it's pretty clear" that when the majority of votes came in Wednesday night showing him up by more than 1,600 votes, he had won the election.
"That was an insurmountable lead given the number of votes still out there," McNerney said. The trend is very clear. The lead is insurmountable."
McNerney acknowledged that there are still at least 11,000 votes yet to be counted in the four counties the 11th Congressional District covers: Alameda, San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.
But a majority of them came in on provisional ballots on Election Day," he said. "We had a very strong lead then and it would take a very significant change in the trend for my opponent to get enough votes to overcome that 1,600-vote lead. It's just insurmountable at this point."
Harmer, however, disagreed, saying it would be premature to concede while the votes are still being counted.
At his press conference, McNerney said he was "truly humbled and honored" by his re-election victory, adding, "I intend to do my best to serve this community for the next two years."
"My district staff and official staff have been reaching out for four years in helping me establish relationships throughout the district, Democrats and Republicans, alike," he said. "This is a wonderful district from Morgan Hill in the south to the Tri-Valley here where we're standing and to San Joaquin County. I want to thank voters for believing in me and all that we've been able to accomplish over the last four years."
McNerney said voters on Nov. 2 made it clear that the economy and jobs are a national priority and they're also his.
"My number one focus is on creating jobs throughout our country but especially right here in our district, right here where we have so much talent and so much opportunity and trusted resources," McNerney said. "We should be able to lead the nation in economic recovery and I want to do everything I can to make sure that happens. "
McNerney said he also will remain firm on his support of health c are reform.
"Health care is going to be a very popular program," he said. "I don't see it can be overturned, and I am standing firm. Health care security will help businesses by reducing the cost of health care. That was a very big part of the motivation that I had on promoting health care and supporting the health care reform legislation."
McNerney said he will leave next week to return to Washington and then back again after Thanksgiving for the final session of the 111th Congress.
Meanwhile, registrars in the four counties in the district continue to tally votes with a final count and their certification to come no later than Wednesday, Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.