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Congressional candidate Ami Bera is once again distancing himself from the country's top Democrat as he heads into the first of what could be two election battles with Republican Rep. Dan Lungren.

The Elk Grove Democrat, who is challenging Lungren in the newly drawn 7th Congressional District, was critical of President Barack Obama's record on improving the economic climate in an interview with News 10 this week.

"I don't think the president did enough in his first years in office," Bera said, noting Sacramento County's roughly 11 percent unemployment rate.

Bera, who called job creation "jobs one, two and three," said he believes officials need to look at both cutting regulations to help small businesses and approving shovel-ready projects, such as work on California's roads and levees, to put people back to work.

Bera tried to distance himself from Obama and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the 2010 campaign, too, without success.

At one point he declared that "If I thought the Democrats were doing the right job in this country with moving forward, I wouldn't be running," and later said he would have been "reluctant" to vote for the health care law Obama and Pelosi championed

Still, two weeks before the 2010 election, a conservative group with ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove, aired a campaign ad asserting that Bera didn't think the overhaul of the nation's health care system went far enough.

"I've been consistent. I think the Affodable Care Act, the health care reform by President Obama misses the point," Bera said in the News 10 interview. "We've got to address the cost of health care. Far too many families, far too many business owners are paying more and more every year and we're getting less and less."

He said Obama's failure to take on the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to lower the cost of health care is "one of the biggest disappointments" of the overhaul.

Bera said during the 2010 campaign that he believes the country should "work to develop a system that lowers costs and is delivered through the private sector but is publicly funded - similar to Medicare."

This year marks the second time Bera and Lungren will go head to head. Lungren, of Gold River, defeated Bera in a slightly different district in 2010 by seven percentage points.

A close voter registration split is expected to make the East Sacramento County district, which runs from the Galt area to Citrus Heights, one of the state's most competitive races. Both are expected to advance to the November runoff under the state's new top-two primary system. Obama carried the areas encompassing the new district 51 percent to 46 percent in 2008.

The full News 10 interview is posted at this link.



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