With the possibility that control of Congress could flip on Nov. 6, experience and seniority matter.
Sacramento-area voters would be best served by re-electing three Democratic incumbents, who in a Democratic House would have more power over federal policy and funding crucial to the region. And rest assured, Reps. Ami Bera, Jerry McNerney and Doris Matsui – the latter in a non-competitive race against perennial candidate Jrmar Jefferson – are all doing a good job and deserving of another term.
We also recommend Jessica Morse, the Democrat challenging GOP Rep. Tom McClintock. She is a bright and energetic young candidate who, if she wins, will have a prominent place in the crop of new House Democrats.
House District 4
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Morse, who grew up in Carmichael, worked for the State and Defense departments, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development, before returning to the district in 2015.
She faces a tough slog in this GOP-leaning district, which runs along the Sierra Nevada mountains from Lake Tahoe south to Yosemite, with most of its population in Placer County. And she made her task even more difficult by resorting to some unnecessary resume padding, which she then compounded by unsuccessfully contesting her ballot designation.
Those decisions opened Morse to attacks from McClintock’s campaign, as did some backtracking on health care. She told this editorial board and others that she supports “Medicare for All.” But in Mariposa on Sept. 23, during what will probably be the campaign’s only debate, she said she opposes it, although she does support allowing people to buy into Medicare.
Those mistakes, however, aren’t disqualifying. Nor do they outweigh her positive traits and potential. It’s misleading for McClintock to label her as a liberal extremist and “Nancy Pelosi shill,” and it’s hypocritical of him to call her a “carpetbagger.”
While Morse isn’t a perfect candidate, she certainly can be a better representative than McClintock, who represented a Southern California district in the Legislature and still lives outside this congressional district in Elk Grove.
McClintock votes the Republican Party line even when it goes against the best interests of his district. Too often, he is part of President Donald Trump’s amen chorus. And he takes extreme positions, such as questioning human-caused climate change.
Voters also should remember that McClintock often discredits constituents who disagree with him. For example, when he had to face tough questions at one town hall last year, he falsely claimed that anarchists had disrupted it.
McClintock has been entrenched in this seat since 2009, but if there really is a blue wave in November, we hope he gets swept away.
House District 7
Bera has squeaked through three times in this district, which has been one of the nation’s most competitive and which covers Elk Grove, Folsom and Rancho Cordova. If he wins again and Democrats retake the House, he is well-positioned to take a leadership role, especially on foreign policy and on health care.
Bera, a doctor by training, wants to continue expanding health coverage by automatically enrolling some people in Medicaid and by moving health plan enrollment to April, when he says people can make smarter choices as they also file their taxes.
His opponent, Republican Andrew Grant, is a former Marine intelligence officer and former CEO of the Northern California World Trade Center. With his background, he has a lot to offer.
He’s also willing to take political risks. To show that he wants to represent diverse constituents, Grant posted a photo of himself with two leaders of the Muslim Community of Folsom. Of course, he received some backlash for it on social media, but handled it well.
Bera is the better choice, but he should agree to debate Grant and prove that to voters.
House District 9
McNerney, first elected in 2006, also has seniority built up. In a Democratic-majority House, he would have a large say on his priorities, including water policy, veterans’ issues and campaign finance reform.
Among California House Democrats, he’s a relative moderate who fits his district, which is mostly in San Joaquin County but reaches into Contra Costa and Sacramento counties.
McNerney’s challenger, Republican Marla Livengood, is a first-time candidate who worked for the San Joaquin Transit District and now for the California Strawberry Commission.
While she’s smart and enthusiastic and has some good ideas to strengthen agriculture in the Central Valley, she holds an unacceptably absolutist position on the Second Amendment – that gun owners should be able to carry AR-15s. California became the first state to prohibit such assault weapons after a man gunned down five children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton in 1989.
McNerney, on the other hand, has been out front in seeking a bipartisan agreement on guns. After so many mass shootings, that is a more responsible position. And if Democrats win Congress, some progress on gun control could actually happen.