Capitol Alert

Ami Bera, Scott Jones to debate for high-profile House seat

Democratic Rep. Ami Bera and Republican Scott Jones, campaigning for the highly competitive congressional district stretching across suburban Sacramento, are set to clash in a televised debate next month.

The hourlong exchange, set for Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at KVIE-TV studios in Natomas, is sponsored by the public television station, along with The Sacramento Bee, Capital Public Radio, Folsom Lake College and the Los Rios Community College District.

Bera is trying to hold off a challenge from Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff, who himself must overcome what may be a tough election for Republicans. Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in many parts of the state and Republicans for the first time do not have a candidate in the U.S. Senate race. The 7th District, which sweeps across Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova and Folsom, has traditionally featured some of the country’s most expensive contests.

Things have already turned nasty. Bera has aired TV ads highlighting 11-year-old allegations against Jones of unwelcome sexual advances toward a female deputy. After Jones urged Bera to pull the ad, Bera instead began circulating a second, even more direct attack.

One of Jones’ ads focuses on his record as sheriff while another features his colleagues at the county department attesting to his exemplary character.

Bera, whose father was recently sentenced to a year in federal prison for sidestepping campaign finance laws to assist his son’s past campaigns, has yet to see the case appear in a paid ad. In a recent interview, Jones suggested his own campaign does not plan to air televised spots on the elder Bera’s legal troubles. Jones’ commitment does not preclude his supporters from running such ads.

“This is an important election for us locally,” said Cheryl Dell, The Bee’s publisher and president. “This debate will provide a valuable opportunity for voters to hear directly from the candidates on a variety of questions and concerns important to the voters of this congressional district, the state and the nation.”

Voters are encouraged to submit questions by email to the panelists for consideration, at debate@sacbee.com, along with a mailing address and phone number. The debate will be broadcast on KVIE-TV’s Channel 6, 90.9 FM in Sacramento and streamed on the sponsors’ respective websites.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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