Rep. Ami Bera, seeking a second term in what could become one of nation’s costliest congressional races, has done as much as can be expected from a freshman in the minority party.
The Elk Grove Democrat, who unseated Rep. Dan Lungren two years ago, has been an advocate for his district, working to increase exports of the region’s agricultural products, and making efforts to work with Republicans.
A physician, Bera offers reasoned and knowledgeable positions in the nation’s health care debate, something sorely lacking in hyperpartisan Washington, D.C.
Bera has been accessible to his constituents in the 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of Sacramento, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove and Galt, and certainly warrants one of the spots in the top-two primary.
Bera, 49, could face a tough fight in the November runoff, depending on which Republican claims the other spot.
Republican Doug Ose, 58, a developer, businessman and former congressional member, would provide Bera with the greatest challenge.
Also running is Republican Elizabeth Emken, 51, a businesswoman who had been a lobbyist for Autism Speaks in Washington, D.C., after her son was diagnosed with autism. Emken, who has moved to Fair Oaks, ran for the U.S. Senate against Dianne Feinstein in 2012, and for Congress in 2010 when she lived in Contra Costa County.
A third candidate is Igor Birman, 32, a first-time candidate who is on leave as chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove.
Unlike many career politicians who mouth support for term limits, Ose kept his pledge to serve three terms in Congress from 1998 and 2004, and voluntarily returned to the Sacramento area.
He ran for an open congressional seat in 2008, losing to McClintock, who, like Birman, labels Ose as a liberal, something he is not.
Having grown up here and done business in the region, Ose has a command of local issues far superior to that of the other Republicans in the race.
He promises to focus on economic issues and to find compromises in Washington. He also pledges to help secure federal funding to strengthen the Natomas levees to protect the city, Sacramento International Airport and other assets from inundation.
In part aided by $250,000 of his own money, Ose has far outraised his Republican foes, amassing $1.1 million for the primary. Bera has raised $1.8 million.
California’s 7th Congressional District is among the seats Republicans hope to retake in 2014. They might or might not succeed. But if Republican voters want a competitive candidate in the fall, Ose would be their best bet.