David Harmer released a letter Saturday (Dec. 4) conceding the 11th Congressional District race to incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney. Harmer, a Republican with a strong Tea Party tinge, at one point in the fall looked like a good bet to unseat McNerney as part of the GOP wave that threw out the Democrats’ House majority. An October poll showed him up by 6 points. But ballots counted on election day showed the race nearly a dead heat, with McNerney pulling ahead by just over 100 votes (out of nearly a quarter-million cast) early the morning of Nov. 3. Harmer fell further and further behind during the counting of late mail-in and provisional ballots, and the final tally shows him losing by a single percentage point, 48-47. (The other 5 percent? That went to American Independent Party candidate David Christensen.)
There’s been a slow-motion quality to Harmer’s embrace of the result. McNerney claimed victory Nov. 10 after an analysis of uncounted ballots showed it was nearly impossible for Harmer to close the gap, which then stood at about 1,700 votes. By last Tuesday, the state deadline for final counts, the gap had grown to 2,658 votes.
Still, that wasn’t enough to get Harmer to concede. In interviews last Thursday, he said he needed a couple days to go over numbers from the district’s individual precincts to make sure there were no “anomalies” lurking in the data. However, he admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli it was unlikely the result would change. Yes, he told Garofoli, he thought a concession would be coming:
“… As befitting a San Ramon resident from the middle of youth soccer nirvana, a youth soccer analogy:
” ‘During my soccer coaching career,’ Harmer said, ‘it was a worthy tradition when the game was over to shake hands not just with the opposing players, but their coaches and the rest and saying, “Good game.” I’ll do that, I’m sure,’ he said.”
And, Garofoli reported Saturday, that sporting “handshake” happened more quickly than Harmer let on it would. Harmer told the Chron’s reporter, via text from a movie theater, that he had called McNerney on Friday to concede.)
In his concession announcement, Harmer explained why he waited until now to publicly acknowledge his defeat:
“Having invested nearly two years of full-time and uncompensated effort in this endeavor, I was ready for a verdict on November 2. I knew that the race would be close, but I intended and expected to win. I was prepared and eager to serve.
“On the other hand, had we clearly lost, my disappointment would have been tempered by relief at returning to the normal routines of private life. What I hadn’t anticipated was neither of the above — a month of uncertainty.
“When you’ve given your all without attaining success, is any temptation more seductive than to quit?
“I can report firsthand that the Harmer family had already had enough. But we recognized that the campaign wasn’t ours alone; it belonged to everyone who had invested time, money, reputation, or heart in it. I was a spokesman for tens of thousands of volunteers, donors, and voters, the advocate of their views and values, and the trustee of their political hopes. They merited my best efforts to ensure that their voices were heard and their votes counted.”
Harmer said in last week’s interviews that among his first priorities, now that he’s not going to the House, is to find a job and get his family’s finances in order.