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Several Central Valley Democrats have joined more than 100 other House candidates in Washington, D.C., this week for a pep talk and some hands-on campaign tutoring.

Participating are Democrats Jose Hernandez -- a San Joaquin County native and former astronaut who's challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Atwater -- and Ami Bera -- a physician repeating his challenge of Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River.

All told, the candidates assembled by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee come from 36 states and from "all walks of life," according to a press statement by Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.

Republicans put their own spin on the candidates' event, saying in their competing release that Hernandez was "rushing to the aid of Washington Democrats today in hopes of returning Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker's Chair."

Hernandez wasn't the only California candidate targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee's email blast. The group issued identical releases hitting two other Democratic congressional hopefuls running for a coastal Northern California seat.

The messages warned that both candidates, who are also in Washington this week, "will be nothing more than a rubber stamp for Obama and Pelosi's broken policies."



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