Democratic Rep. Ami Bera and Republican Doug Ose, engaged in one of the country’s most closely watched races for the House, are set to lock horns Wednesday in their only scheduled debate of the contest.
Bera, of Elk Grove, is in his first term in Washington, and is hoping to recapture some of the late-fall magic that helped him unseat Rep. Dan Lungren by fewer than 10,000 votes in 2012. Ose, a successful land developer, is mounting a comeback attempt after serving three terms in Congress through 2005.
Wednesday’s debate in the tossup race is an opportunity for the candidates to seize some momentum heading into the final stretch of the Nov. 4 race.
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Below, we’ve prepared a debate-watching guide.
Democrat Ami Bera
Congressman, doctor, teacher
Education:Doctorate, medicine, UC Irvine, 1991; bachelor’s degree, biological sciences, UC Irvine, 1987; internal medicine residency, California Pacific Medical Center.
Experience:Member of Congress, 2013-present; clinical professor of medicine, UC Davis, 2004-09; chief of primary health services division, Health and Human Services, Sacramento County, 2003-04; medical director, primary health services division, Health and Human Services, Sacramento County, 1999-2003; physician, MedClinic Medical Group, 1995-99; medical director, care management, Mercy Healthcare, 1998-99.
Republican Doug Ose
Education:Bachelor’s degree, business administration, UC Berkeley, 1977.
Experience:Managing partner of operator of Gibson Ranch, 2011-present; congressman, 1999-2005; Rotary Club of Sacramento, 1984-present; co-chairman, Yes on Incorporation for Citrus Heights, 1996; Sacramento First 5 Commission, 2012-13.
How the money stacks up
Through June 30
Bera:$2.54 million raised; $732,454 spent and $1.97 million cash on hand.
Ose:$1.31 million raised; $1.39 million spent and $203,842 cash on hand.
Supporting Bera:American Society of Anesthesiologists, $109,300
Opposing Bera:National Republican Congressional Committee, $727,582; U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $300,800
Supporting Ose:Defending Main Street SuperPAC Inc., $100,000; U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $300,150
Opposing Ose:Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $1.09 million; House Majority PAC, $200,000; Gun Owners of America, $16,200
On the issues
Affordable Care Act
Bera: Supports. Says the federal health care law should remain on the books, but be amended to allow for incremental fixes.
Ose: Opposes. Says the law should be repealed and replaced with a “market-driven” plan – for example, a system that would still cover pre-existing conditions, but doesn’t impose a tax on high-cost health insurance plans.
Raising the minimum wage
Bera: Supports. Says the national minimum wage should rise to $10.10 per hour from $7.25 per hour, that it’s “wrong” that someone working full time could earn less than $15,000 a year.
Ose: Opposes. Notes that California’s wage floor, set to increase to $10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016, already exceeds the federal standard. Says the focus should be on creating high-paying, full-time jobs and growing the middle class.
Bera: Says the Senate-approved version of immigration reform should have been allowed to come to a vote in the GOP-run House. The plan would have paved the way for millions of undocumented immigrants to become citizens as well as increased border security.
Ose: Says the first priority to fixing the broken immigration system must be to secure the nation’s borders so as not to compound the problem. Says granting “amnesty” to immigrants cannot be an option, though the country needs to undergo a “calm, dispassionate” discussion on what to do with those here illegally “who have not been a drain on our social services.” Says loosening the guest-worker program to address agricultural and technology workers is much needed.
Government action on climate change
Bera: Supports. Says a “clean-energy future” would generate millions of jobs and help jump-start the economy. Says climate change is real and having an impact on our water supplies. Says the problem is congressional Republicans don’t acknowledge climate change.
Ose: Opposes. Says the No. 1 priority should be the economy and jobs, and that we have to be careful about adopting policies that make American products less competitive. Skeptical about the soundness of science behind climate change claims.
Bera says he’s fulfilled his campaign pledges, including pushing for legislation to withhold congressional pay if members don’t pass a budget.
Analysis: Bera did work to help pass “No Budget, No Pay” legislation. But his ads don’t mention that the version signed into law applied to only one budget year and would have ultimately paid members regardless of whether they approved a federal budget.
Bera contends Ose profited financially by serving in Congress.
Analysis: Ose did see his personal wealth grow considerably during his six years in office, but there’s no evidence that his votes in favor of Wall Street-supported bills helped his own stock portfolio in particular.
Bera argues Ose is out-of-step with voters by agreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case.
Analysis: Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafting stores whose owners oppose abortion on religious grounds, could not be forced to provide insurance coverage for certain contraceptives. Bera called the decision outrageous. Ose says business owners should be allowed to exercise their religious preferences.
Ose says Bera has been an ineffective member who is beholden to Democratic leaders.
Analysis: Bera is one of the leaders of a bipartisan group called No Labels, whose members wrote, filed and co-sponsored 17 pieces of legislation. Two of their bills had language adopted as law. Bera has not been a lockstep vote for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, breaking with Democrats to delay taxes under the federal health care overhaul.
Ose argues Bera has failed to find a solution to the region’s water problems.
Analysis: Ose’s water plan would slow the discharge of water from Folsom Lake and stop federal funding for Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels project. Bera has been less vocal on the water issue. Last month, he sponsored legislation to block the federal government from paying for part of the project.
O se contends Bera voted to raise the gas tax by 15 cents.
Analysis: Bera supported an unsuccessful amendment to use a plan by deficit commission co-chairman Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson as a framework for reducing the federal deficit and balancing the budget. The gas tax proposal was one of many potential solutions incorporated in Simpson-Bowles.
What: Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, and Republican Doug Ose, a former member of Congress, participate in the only scheduled debate before the Nov. 4 election for the 7th Congressional District seat.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: KVIE-TV, with a studio audience.
Watch or listen: The debate airs live on KVIE-TV and Capital Public Radio. Columnist Dan Walters will moderate a live blog at sacbee.com during the debate.
From noon to 1 p.m., the public is invited to a pre-debate panel, Debate Watching 101, featuring Ken Rudin, the “Political Junkie,” at the Community Room, 10 College Parkway, at Folsom Lake College.
Sponsors: The Sacramento Bee, Capital Public Radio, KVIE-TV, Los Rios Community College District, Folsom Lake College, Sacramento State Center for California Studies