Rep. Ami Bera, drawn into an extended endorsement standoff over his votes on trade and refugees, easily won the Democratic Party’s formal support at the state convention on Saturday.
Despite not facing an intraparty challenge, Bera’s votes to advance a contested trade agreement and limit Syrian and Iraqi refugees from resettling in the U.S. so upset unions and a vocal group of local activists that he fell short of the endorsement threshold last month.
After that, Bera’s campaign spent weeks preparing to ensure he avoided what could have been an embarrassing episode. Bera supporters marginalized his detractors as impractical, arguing their persistent criticism of him would only help his GOP challenger in one of the state’s closest swing districts.
Bera, of Elk Grove, addressed activists gathered in San Jose and contrasted his positions on minimum wage and gun control with his GOP opponent, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. Jones came out early against the trade agreement and has staked out a moderate position on immigration and some social issues.
“This is about what future we want,” Bera said, “and how we give people opportunity.”
Speaking before the vote Saturday, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said Bera’s position on trade, through different than hers, should not be a deciding factor for his reelection.
“We have a great kaleidoscope” of representatives, she said, adding. “We all are a resource to each other at some point.”
“He’s a valued member of the Congress. He has a great base of support at the grassroots level and I think he will win.”