Capitol Alert

Who are national Republicans recruiting to unseat Ami Bera?

Incumbent, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera responds to questions during his debate with Republican Doug Ose for the 7th Congressional District, at the KVIE Studio's on Oct. 8, 2014, in Sacramento.
Incumbent, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera responds to questions during his debate with Republican Doug Ose for the 7th Congressional District, at the KVIE Studio's on Oct. 8, 2014, in Sacramento. jvillegas@sacbee.com

National Republican leaders are talking to three prominent potential candidates about challenging Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove in next year’s election.

Former Rep. Doug Ose, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and former Sheriff John McGinness have been approached by the National Republican Congressional Committee about running in suburban Sacramento’s 7th Congressional District, a perennial toss-up that stretches from Elk Grove to Folsom.

Bera narrowly won re-election over Ose last year in the nation’s most expensive House race, and captured the seat by ousting GOP incumbent Dan Lungren in 2012. In an interview Friday, Ose confirmed that he’d been talking with the NRCC, but said he has yet to make a decision about running.

“I do know this district needs representation and they are not getting it,” Ose said of his former rival.

“Any member of Congress, regardless of party, who is as ineffectual as Bera has been continues to be vulnerable,” he added.

In a prepared statement, Bera spokeswoman Alex Gilliland said the 7th district will always be competitive.

“The best way to get reelected is to make sure you do your job and serve your constituents,” the statement said. “To date, we have helped countless veterans, seniors, and residents recover over $2 million in federal benefits that they were owed.”

Still, the competition could be fierce. Tab Berg, a consultant for Jones, said the sheriff was asked about running at a Republican Party event Thursday, and told a questioner that he was considering the race. Jones has bolstered his profile in recent months, appearing alongside the widow of a fallen deputy to testify before Congress about immigration enforcement.

Berg said several things on personal, professional and political levels must fall into place before Jones reaches a conclusion about challenging Bera.

“He certainly has the qualifications, temperament and background to be an effective candidate and to be a congressman,” Berg said. “But timing is incredibly important in politics. Does the timing work out for him? We don’t know yet.”

McGinness, a mentor of Jones’, has said repeatedly he isn’t interested in elected office. He hosts an afternoon radio program on KFBK (1530 AM) and does law-enforcement consulting work.

“I’m humbled by their confidence,” McGinness said of the NRCC Friday. “I’m very happy with what I’m doing now but will give it some thought.”

The three Republicans communicate regularly and share many of the same supporters. Observers say it’s unlikely more than one of them would run for the congressional seat.

Recruiting any of them into the race would itself be an achievement for the NRCC, which may have difficulty fielding competitive challengers in toss-up districts given that presidential election years typically produce higher voter participation that favors Democratic House incumbents.

Should all three Sacramento County Republicans pass on the opportunity, others mentioned as possible contenders are Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, a 12-year incumbent with deep roots in the region, and former state Assemblyman Roger Niello of Fair Oaks.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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