STOCKTON — Flanked by family and supporters, police union president Kathryn Nance stood in front of City Hall on Tuesday morning, touted her leadership skills, criticized her incumbent opponent, and made official her 2016 run for the United States House of Representatives.
“You name it, I’ve seen it,” said the 40-year-old Nance, who heads the Stockton Police Officers’ Association and has served on the force for 18 years. “It’s time for a leader who will force their way to a seat at the table.”
Nance becomes the first official Republican challenger for 2016 to Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who is expected to seek a sixth term in Congress next year. The 63-year-old McNerney captured his seat in 2006, winning 53 percent of the vote en route to toppling incumbent Republican Richard Pombo.
McNerney in subsequent elections fended off challenges by Dean Andal (55 percent to 45 percent) in 2008; David Harmer (48-47) in 2010; Ricky Gill (56-44) in 2012; and Tony Amador (52-48) last year. Amador said Tuesday he is several months from deciding if he will try again in 2016.
Nance said she believes she can succeed where past McNerney challengers have failed.
“This district is ready for a change,” Nance said. “They’re ready for a leader.
They’re ready to start fresh and new. … We have huge problems that we’re willing and ready to face.”
Nance’s political consultant, Lee Neves, said he is encouraged that Amador came close to knocking off McNerney last year despite running an underfunded campaign. As for McNerney’s pre-2014 opponents, Neves said,
“If you were to get a Republican candidate out of page 33 of the Republican playbook, it would have been them.”
Neves said Nance will be a different and more challenging opponent, but political experts said they believe the lifelong Stockton resident’s road to unseating McNerney will be rocky.
“As with any Republican who wants to challenge McNerney, it’s a long shot because of the part of the district that’s in Contra Costa County and because of Stockton,” Keith Smith, an associate professor of political science at University of the Pacific, said Tuesday.
“Stockton now votes Democratic, predominantly, and the part of the district that’s in Contra Costa County is heavily Democratic.”
Robert Benedetti, professor emeritus at Pacific, said that after spending her entire career in law enforcement, Nance “will need to build a set of policies across a spectrum of issues.”
Benedetti added, “That will be her challenge. (McNerney’s) challenge, I think, is that people have found him acceptable without being exciting. His challenge will be to be new again, to be someone who can make things better.”
Hired by the Stockton Police Department in 1996, Nance was promoted to sergeant in 2011. She has served as president of the Stockton Police Officers’ Association for nearly three years.
Nance is a member of a countywide AB109 taskforce on prison realignment focusing on the re-entry of former inmates into the community. She and her husband, Stockton Police Officer James Nance, have four children, three of them adults.
Tuesday marked Nance’s second news conference in front of City Hall in a matter of weeks. In January, Nance and Police Chief Eric Jones announced that the union and the department had agreed on a policy for the use of body cameras to be worn by Stockton officers. About 250 officers are expected to be equipped with the cameras later this year.
In announcing her Congressional candidacy, Nance said the biggest problems confronting voters in 2016 will be economic growth, water and safety “both at home and abroad.”
Nance also acknowledged it is “unique” that she heads a public-employee union and is running as a Republican. Unions historically have been a major sector in the Democratic voting bloc.
“You have to look at what unions and labor groups have done to support our whole entire United States and the growth,” Nance said. “Do unions overreach at times? Yes. Does city government overreach at times? Yes. What we have to do … is to open those lines of communication.”
— Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at recordnet.com/phillipsblog and on Twitter @rphillipsblog.