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Duane Dichiara

Enter Gill

The former California Congressional seat 11 has seen three consecutive hard fought battles, with Jerry McNerney defeating Richard Pombo, Dean Andal, and then, barely, David Harmer. But the new seat, numbered California 9, is a different seat. This time around it is almost wholly within the conservative San Joaquin Valley. Looking at the numbers, Republican Attorney General candidate Steve Cooley won the district, which Republican US Senate candidate Carly Fiorina narrowly lost. After the drubbings Democrats took last Tuesday, one could predict that CD-9 would be already moving into the NRCC crosshairs.

It gets worse for Democrats eager to hold the seat. Jerry McNerney has decided to move 60 miles from the East Bay to defend the more conservative portion of his seat. Note to readers: yes this is the same Jerry McNerney who is a former wind  farmer. He has been busy touting green jobs (such as those at Solyndra) and the Obama stimulus for the last three years. Unemployment is 17% in the new district, and probably more like 20% when you consider the seasonal farm work.

The Republican who may finally retake the district was only 18 years old when Jerry McNerney first wn this seat. His name is Ricky Gill, and he has already ripped Jerry McNerney’s 60 mile trek to the seat as “Jerry-Mandering” which I found humorous. Gill is a first generation American success story. He is a first generation American of Sikh heritage. He speaks Spanish – a useful skill in the district. He graduated from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson school (I won’t hold that against him). He worked for Bill Frist for a summer. He served on the State Board of Education and is credited by his colleagues there with playing a pivotal role in preserving the integrity of the high school exit exam.

That’s all fine and well. Here’s where my head whipped around: Gill is 24, still in law school at Berkely, and posted over 400k raised in his first quarter. That ranks him 6th among ALL Congressional campaigns nationwide. He has already been featured in Politico and National Journal as a ‘rising star’ and ‘wunderkind’. The NRCC placed him in their Young GUns program.

Ideologically Gill has signed the ATR anti-tax pledge and supports repeal and replacement of President Obama’s heathcare plan. He supports a balanced budget amendment. I’d go on but just visit his website It’s one of the better websites I’ve seen this year.

Look, Gill is young. Maybe not the most helpful thing in the world. But he’s a hard worker and wicked quick. He’s impressed leaders throughout the San Joaquin Valley, and has been rolling out powerful agriculture endorsements. Remember the Republicans for McNerney? They’re will Gill this time around.

Note: Gill is not a client.