It’s not quite the mudslinger of 2014, but this year’s 7th Congressional District race is another nasty affair.
Fighting to retain his suburban Sacramento County seat for a third term, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, has been hitting his Republican opponent, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, with scathing TV ads focused on allegations that Jones made unwanted sexual advances toward a subordinate.
Meanwhile, accusations that he was aware of an illegal campaign financing scheme orchestrated by his father have dogged Bera for months. When the elder Bera was sentenced to prison in August, Jones released a statement suggesting he had not acted alone, and now national Republicans are running ads in the district calling the congressman a “fraud” who “can’t be trusted.”
So don’t be surprised if tonight’s televised debate between Bera and Jones is as unpleasantly confrontational as the most recent presidential clash – though hopefully it will at least be illuminating for voters about where the candidates stand in a race that has centered on anything but the issues.
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You can catch the debate – sponsored by KVIE, The Sacramento Bee, Capital Public Radio, Folsom Lake College and the Los Rios Community College District – at 7 p.m. on KVIE or streaming on sacbee.com. And to read up on Bera and Jones’ positions on immigration, trade, guns, health care and climate, check out The Bee’s 2016 voter guide.
BY THE NUMBERS: No California House race has attracted more Super PAC dollars this cycle than the 7th Congressional District. As of Monday, eight Super PAC committees had spent more than $3.9 million dollars in the race, the 13th-most of any seat in the country. Of the total, $1.6 million paid for advocacy supporting Bera or opposing Jones, and $2.3 million opposed Bera or supported Jones. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reported spending the most, $1.2 million, followed by $990,000 from the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is close to GOP leadership, and $962,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, tanking in the polls, may already be calling into question the legitimacy of the upcoming election, but California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla has full faith in the process. He is making the rounds today encouraging voter registration, which has already reached record levels in the state, 1:30 p.m. at Sacramento State’s University Union and 5 p.m. at Crocker Art Museum’s Off the Grid event.
WATER WOES: Though California’s major reservoirs are holding 69 percent more water than a year ago and the north was hit with some heavy rain storms over the weekend, a sixth year of drought appears imminent. What has the state been doing lately to deal with the crisis? The Public Policy Institute of California hosts a half-day forum, starting at 8 a.m. at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on J Street, with panels on sustainable groundwater management, environmental impacts and access to safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities.
IN MEMORIAM: Last week, a gang member ambushed three Palm Springs police officers, killing Jose Gilbert Vega, a 35-year veteran of the department set to retire in December, and Lesley Zerebny, a young mother who had just returned from maternity leave. Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris are set to attend a public memorial service for the fallen officers, 11 a.m. at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
OILED UP: Hundreds of thousands of dollars from outside groups are still pouring into the San Bernardino-area Assembly district where attorney Eloise Reyes is attempting to take out Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown in a bitter referendum on her environmental record. With oil companies spending big to keep the business-friendly Brown in office, a coalition of labor unions and environmental groups has dubbed her “Chevron Cheryl” in hopes the alliterative moniker will resonate with voters in one of the state’s most polluted areas. They will hold a press conference to highlight Brown’s placement on a League of Conservation Voters list of the county’s “most anti-environmental state-level candidates,” 10:30 a.m. at the Ruth Campos Community Center in San Bernardino.
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Young Kim, R-Fullerton, who turns 54 today.
Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.