Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, of Pleasanton, is in for a major re-election fight next year if the number of Republicans and high-powered political consultants looking at the seat is any indication.
Six Republicans have either declared their District 11 candidacies or say they are testing the waters.
Lodi-area grape grower Brad Goehring has hired Carl Fogliani, the former campaign manager for Richard Pombo, the former congressman who lost to McNerney in 2006.
Businessman Jon Del Arroz, of Danville, has on his team Carlos Rodriguez and Dave Gilliard.
Former San Jose Councilman Larry Pegram, of San Jose, is exploring the idea with well-known consultant Tim Clark.
San Ramon businessman David Bernal and former U.S. Marshal and Sacramento-area Latino leader Tony Amador have congressional campaign Web sites.
And Lodi-area construction company owner Robert Beetles is discussing a run with the firm of Duane Dichiara, another highly sought-after GOP consultant.
The GOP's interest in District 11 reflects party strategists' widely held opinion that McNerney is vulnerable as a Democrat in a district where Republicans hold a 4-point registration lead.
McNerney undeniably had the wind at his back in his last two elections.
In 2006, McNerney beat an incumbent who was the target of millions of dollars in outside spending on negative campaign mailers, TV and radio spots. Two years later, he rode a pro-Obama wave and won re-election.
"This time, McNerney won't have Barack Obama to hide behind," said Hector Barajas, former state GOP communications director who now works for Dichiara.
A MATTER OF TIMING. The Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case has prompted 17-year Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf to postpone a decision about his own re-election plans.
Rupf's term ends next year and he had intended to make up his mind by Labor Day.
But he and his department are deeply involved in the investigation of the Dugard kidnapping suspects, a high-profile case where he has admitted his agency missed a chance to rescue her several years ago.
When and if Rupf retires, however, he will promote as his replacement Concord police Chief Dave Livingston.
"I recruited Dave," Rupf said. "He has the youth and the horizon for the job. I've said for some time there is great value in having someone at the helm, particularly in an elected office, that will be there for a while."
Livingston says he is ready.
"It's not something I sought out but it's a great opportunity," Livingston said. "When and if the sheriff decides not to run, I am in a position to put together a campaign."
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WAS IT SOMETHING THEY SAID? Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, of Dublin, has switched from Republican to Democrat. He handed in his new registration card at the county unions' annual Labor Day barbecue.
This is no ideological temblor. Haggerty has long been a moderate.
"If you look at my votes on the Board of Supervisors, I have pretty much aligned myself with the Democratic Party for a long time," Haggerty said.
It also puts him in a better position to run for higher office. No Republican holds a partisan elected seat anywhere in the Bay Area.
But Haggerty emphatically insists he has no plans to run for any other office until his youngest son — age 8 — is enrolled in college.
Haggerty joins a growing list of prominent local officials who have left the GOP.
State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, switched in 2000. Contra Costa Community College District Trustee Tomi Van de Brooke did it last year.
Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder dropped his GOP affiliation, too, but he didn't lunge all the way across the aisle. He re-registered as "decline to state."
Some blame Schroder's significant other, Suzanne Hatch. She is the daughter of Carol Hatch, the ex-district director for Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.
Not true, Schroder said. He says he ditched both parties after watching the Legislature's budget debacle.
That's his story and he is sticking to it.