On Sunday evening, East Bay Representative Jerry McNerney (D-11-Pleasanton) cast one of the 219 votes in favor of the Senate health insurance reform bill. Until Saturday, McNerney was the lone Bay Area Democratic hold-out, refusing to commit to a “yes” vote, but not for the reasons most people may think.
McNerney, representing a district that leans Republican, made headlines in 2006 when he ousted conservative Republican Richard Pombo after holding the seat for 14 years. Pombo became vulnerable after multiple charges of corruption and, in particular, his ties to convicted felon Jack Abramoff were revealed.
After voting in favor of the original, more progressive House bill, McNerney became a target of Tea Partiers and supporters of the health insurance reform. His vote has also become the target of the two Republicans vying to defeat the Congressman this fall, Elizabeth Emken of Danville and Tony Amado or Lodi, both of whom do not support the Democratic health insurance reform bill. Moreover, the district where McNerney garnered 55 percent of the vote in 2008 is now defined as the only “leaning D” in California, as compared to “likely” or “solid” by the Cook Report.
Yet, despite this challenging political landscape, McNerney held out because he did not feel the current, more conservative Senate bill the House was voting on and its proposed fixes were strong enough to tackle the health insurance crisis in the nation.
It is too early to tell what this vote will mean for McNerney this November. However, unlike so many Democrats that voted “no” in the hopes of saving their Congressional seat, the gentleman from Pleasanton can at least be proud to have voted his conscience.