Capitol Alert

Ami Bera has slim lead over Scott Jones in House race, but plenty of confidence

The race in California’s 7th Congressional District is shaping up to be a repeat of 2014, when suburban Sacramento County residents did not know who their next congressman would be for weeks as the registrar counted every last vote.

On Wednesday, with potentially thousands of ballots still to be tallied, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, led Republican challenger Scott Jones by less than 1 percent, or 2,094 votes. Both candidates were settled in for the long haul.

Bera, who has made a tradition of razor-thin margins, was optimistic about his prospects during a news conference at his campaign office in Elk Grove. He pointed out that he built a 184-vote lead the day after the 2012 election into an eventual victory of more than 9,000, and in 2014, he erased a deficit of more than 3,000 votes in early returns to win by about 1,400.

“I’m in a position I’ve never been in: 2,000 votes up the morning after an election,” Bera said. “We feel confident about the direction that this is headed.”

Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff, said at his election party Tuesday night that he is anxious to know the outcome of the race, but that he also felt “overwhelming relief that this is over” and his family wouldn’t have to see nasty campaign ads on television anymore.

“It may very well take a few days to a few weeks to decide the victory,” he said. “And that’s OK. My sheriff’s race took two or three weeks to decide, too, so I’m no stranger to that.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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