Election 2010: Democrats Look Safe in Bay Area -- For Now

Categories: Politics
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Rep. Jerry McNerney: First off the island?
With all the sturm und drang gripping the Democratic party as the fall election approaches -- some observers are forecasting a Republican take-back of the House of Representatives, prompted by widespread anger over the economy and some of President Barack Obama's big-government initiatives -- we thought we'd take the pulse of some local politicos on the security of the Bay Area's incumbent congressional Democrats.

To start, it's worth noting that the anxiety in the Dems' ranks is undeniable. Just today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco sent out a doth-protest-too-much-methinks message to supporters, asserting, "Here is what will happen in November. Democrats will keep control of the House. Period."

We don't share Pelosi's assurance about the Democrats' prospects nationwide. But according to two experts consulted by SF Weekly, it appears -- for now -- that the congressional seats held by Bay Area Democrats are safe. The experts agreed that the most vulnerable seat is that of East Bay Rep. Jerry McNerney, whose district includes part of the Central Valley.

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And even he's not that shaky.

"The one that would be considered most vulnerable would be McNerney's seat," said Larry Gerston, a political-science professor at San Jose State. "I don't really believe he's in jeopardy." If McNerney does fall to Republican challenger David Harmer, Gerston added, it's a good indication that the entire House could go to the Republicans in November.

Robert Smith, a political science professor at San Francisco State, said Californian Dems could be more impervious to the electorate's potential backlash against Obama's policies. He noted that in California, some issues that are less important in other regions -- such as environmental regulation and energy policy -- can be emphasized to Democrats' advantage.

Moreover, "Obama's still a bit popular here," Smith said. With four months left to go, we'll see how long that lasts.

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