Ricky Gill, the Republican challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, had his moment in the spotlight Tuesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
The 25-year-old Gill, of Lodi, briefly addressed the convention at about 3 p.m. EDT, describing himself as "a proud son of California's San Joaquin Valley."
"We all work hard in the valley, and we're proud to live there. But today we face crippling unemployment and foreclosures -- even the bankruptcy of Stockton, our largest city. Young people leave or drop out of school to help their families make ends meet. Our friends and neighbors are suffering," he said.
Gill called the valley "a cautionary tale of failed policies, not false ambitions."
"No one in this country dreams of dependency; no one hopes for mediocrity. We are ready again to seize the measure of our ambitions -- not because the government says we can, but because we believe we can," he said. "We need a new generation of leadership to chart the path, to fight for policies that create jobs rather than red tape, and to help small businesses succeed, rather than helping green energy companies fail.
"Like you, we valley folks are tough, independent, and faithful -- and we are ready to rebuild our American Dream."
Other than Gill, the only other person from the greater Bay Area set to address the GOP convention is former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Now a
McNerney, D-Stockton, has said he won't be attending the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte, N.C., because he'll be attending his son's wedding.
"It is telling that Ricky Gill has spent an entire week away from the community, proving his ultraconservative credentials, while Jerry McNerney has been here at home working on the issues that people face every single day," Lauren Smith, spokeswoman for McNerney's campaign, said Tuesday.
California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said: "Gill's promises of a fresh start ring hollow as he seeks to become a member of the same tired Republican congressional leadership that has failed this country time and again.
"House Republicans proclaimed a focus on jobs and have instead spent the better part of their limited time in Congress focusing on the Tea Party's extremist agenda," Flores said. "Voters are wise to the GOP's game at this point, and that spells trouble for Republicans like Gill."