Former Rep. Jerry McNerney jumps into fast-shifting California state Senate race

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Former Rep. Jerry McNerney is running for an open seat in California’s Legislature less than a year after leaving Congress.

McNerney said in an interview that he was running for the Stockton-area office because he saw “a great opportunity to get really good work done in California.”

“I feel really strongly about the climate, about gun violence, about women’s rights and so many other things, and I believe the California state Legislature is a place where you can really get stuff done,” said McNerney, a Democrat who spent more than a decade in the House.

His entry further upends the fast-changing race for the vacant 5th Senate district, which state Sen. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) is leaving at the end of the year, and could be seen as an effort to block a dynasty-making play by Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) and his wife, Edith Villapudua.

McNerney will be running against Carlos Villapudua, one of the most moderate Democrats in the state Assembly. The state lawmaker announced on Thursday — just before the candidate filing deadline — that he would run for the open Senate seat rather than for another Assembly term.

Carlos Villapudua’s last-minute swerve into the state Senate race looked likely to benefit his wife, who had been running for the Senate seat but faced a tough Democratic opponent. Now, Edith Villapudua is positioned to run unopposed for the Assembly seat her husband is vacating.

Both Villapuduas have faced resistance from California Democrats. Last month the party endorsed Rhodesia Ransom, a staffer to Rep. Josh Harder, over Edith Villapudua for the Senate seat — and declined to endorse Carlos Villapudua’s reelection bid.

In a sign the Democrat-on-Democrat clash will turn contentious, Carlos Villapudua’s campaign consultant Lee Neves brushed off McNerney’s entry on Friday, describing the former representative as “a backbencher.”

“I look forward to a campaign where we compare (McNerney’s) record as a backbencher who collected a paycheck while getting nothing done in Congress to Assemblymember Villapudua’s laundry list of accomplishments in the state Assembly,” Neves said in an interview.

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