Central Valley Rep. Jerry McNerney announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in the newly-created 9th Congressional District, paving the way for local Democratic lawmakers to play a game of metaphorical musical chairs.
McNerney, a Democrat, has represented parts of Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties in the current District 9 since 2013 and represented District 11 for six years prior. Newly-drawn electoral maps which go into effect this election have shifted District 9 to now include Manteca, Escalon and Ripon, which were formerly part of Rep. Josh Harder’s District 10.
News of McNerney’s retirement brought about a flurry of announcements from other Democrats in the area, like Harder, who announced he would now instead run in the now-open District 9 rather than his previously-announced campaign for District 13, which includes the western half of Turlock.
“It has been an honor to have Representative Jerry McNerney as a mentor and a friend. From delivering our veterans a VA clinic in French Camp to expanding broadband and helping close the digital divide, Rep. McNerney made our entire state proud. Jerry, thank you for your incredible service to our community,” Harder said in a statement. “Today, I’m humbled to share I will be running for reelection in CA-9 which encompasses parts of mine and Jerry’s districts. More than 150 years ago, my great-great-grandpa joined a wagon train to California and settled in Manteca to start a peach farm and raise his family. With Pam and my first child on the way, I’m excited to grow my own family and continue my public service in the same community he settled in all those years ago.”
Harder was first elected to represent District 10 in 2018 after defeating Republican incumbent Jeff Denham, and won a second term in Congress after winning the 2020 election against Republican challenger Ted Howze. Harder was born in Turlock and was able to represent the city as part of District 10 for his first two terms in office. Following the redistricting process, Turlock is now part of Districts 5 and 13.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to represent Turlock in Congress. Working as a paperboy for the Turlock Journal, I never imagined one day I’d get to represent my community and work toward making it better. Though I’m disappointed redistricting means I will no longer be representing Turlock in Congress after 2022, I’m committed to serving until my very last day in CA-10,” Harder told the Journal. “I’m proud of all this community has accomplished over the past three years and look forward to continuing my work delivering for all of the Central Valley.”
Following Harder’s announcement that he would be running in District 9, Merced Assemblyman Adam Gray announced his first Congressional campaign to represent part of Turlock along with Newman, Los Banos and Merced in the new District 13.
According to Gray’s campaign, approximately half of the residents living in District 13 have already been represented by the Democrat in the 12th Assembly District over the last decade. Gray’s accomplishments in the Assembly include protecting local water rights, helping to increase health care for underserved communities, reducing crime and creating jobs — all while fostering a reputation for bipartisanship during his time at the State Capitol.
“...Those fights were not always easy, but I am proud to say that we won a lot more often than we lost. Now I am asking for the opportunity to bring that fight to Washington. A lot of great people with good intentions go to DC and quickly fall prey to the partisanship that has infected our nation’s capital,” Gray said in a statement. “Anyone who knows me will tell you I have never wavered in my commitment to my constituents over my party. Partisanship will never dictate my vote. That’s not an empty promise. It’s something I have proven every day I have been in office.”
Gray stated that his priorities in Congress if elected will include securing resources for agriculture and jobs in the San Joaquin Valley, building new water storage and mitigating the effects of flood and drought. He also hopes to improve access to health care and continue to fight crime in the Valley.
“Importantly, I will always support good ideas regardless of if they come from Democrats, Republicans, or Independents,” Gray said.
While the west side of Turlock and a few central neighborhoods are included in District 13, Turlock’s east side and Denair are included in the new District 5, which stretches from the eastern Sacramento area, through Tuolumne and Mariposa counties and down into Kings Canyon, jutting west into Stanislaus County to include a portion of Modesto and all of Oakdale, Waterford and Hughson.
The area is represented by Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, whose representatives confirmed to the Sacramento Bee this month he would be running for reelection. McClintock’s office has not returned a request for comment from the Journal.