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1191194573_110201_port_9057.jpgA 24-year-old UC Berkeley law school student this week announced his candidacy for the congressional seat Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney held by only 2,700 votes in November.

Ricky Gill of Lodi, a registered Republican, is centering his campaign around giving San Joaquin County "a seat at the table and a voice in American politics."

The Princeton University graduate served on the California State Board of Education (after being appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) and worked for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. He hopes to curb regulations that restrict farmers and small businesses, raise education standards and rein in medical malpractice insurance costs. Both of his parents are physicians.

McNerney and fellow Central Valley Democrat, Rep. Jim Costa, eked out narrow victories in last year's midterm elections. McNerney beat Republican David Harmer by 1.1 percent. As of February, McNerney's 11th Congressional District had about 660 more voters registered as Republicans than Democrats. That's the closest split in the state.

But it's unclear what the district will look like after the independent Citizens Restricting Commission redraws congressional boundaries. The Washington Post listed McNerney has one of 10 incumbents who could be squeezed out because he lives in a remote part of the district.

Gill spokesman Chris Clark said the campaign has raised $170,000 since March 1, though the deadline for submitting donation data to the Federal Election Commission is not until next month.

If elected, Gill would meet the constitutional age requirement of 25 to be a member of the House of Representatives when seated.


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