Capitol Alert

Doug Ose’s lead over Ami Bera shrinks – again

Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, right, and Republican Doug Ose, left, shake hands after debating at the KVIE studio last month in Sacramento.
Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, right, and Republican Doug Ose, left, shake hands after debating at the KVIE studio last month in Sacramento. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Democratic Rep. Ami Bera has pulled to within 530 votes of Republican challenger Doug Ose in the race for suburban Sacramento’s 7th Congressional District.

Ose, who finished election night with a 3,011-vote advantage over the freshman lawmaker, has seen his lead contract again nearly a week after polls closed Tuesday. The margin stood at about 2,000 votes since the last counting Thursday, when nearly 80,000 ballots were left across the county.

In raw numbers, Ose now leads with 76,133 votes to Bera’s 75,603, according to the latest tally posted on Sacramento County’s website Monday. Elections officials now estimate that 33,000 countywide ballots remain uncounted. The next update is scheduled for about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

California Democrats emerged from last week’s campaigns on the verge of losing incumbents in San Diego, Ventura and Fresno. But the party has benefited from overtime ballot-counting, with Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego narrowly winning his seat and Reps. Julia Brownley of Thousand Oaks and Jim Costa of Fresno either hanging on or staging a comeback.

Reps. Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert, Jerry McNerney of Stockton, John Garamendi of Walnut Grove and Lois Capps of Santa Barbara held off challenges, and Democrat Pete Aguilar of Redlands claimed a seat left open with the retirement of Republican Rep. Gary Miller.

Bera, a medical doctor and former county health official, has been generally upbeat about his prospects of retaining the swing seat that stretches across his hometown of Elk Grove to Rancho Cordova and Folsom. Bera has repeatedly noted that in his 2012 rematch with GOP then-Rep. Dan Lungren it took nine days to determine the challenger won by about 9,200 votes.

“Once all the counting is done, I’m confident I will be representing Sacramento County in the 114th Congress,” Bera said Monday.

Ose, who served three terms in Congress until 2005, when he stepped down because of self-imposed term limits, is seeking to become the first California GOP candidate to unseat a Democratic House member in two decades.

“Doug Ose still maintains his lead in the race for California’s 7th Congressional District,” his campaign said in a statement after the vote was updated. “This has been a close race from the beginning, and we have full faith in the Sacramento County registrar to ensure that every legal vote is accounted for.”

Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago

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