Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera's campaign said today that the 7th Congressional District candidate misspoke during Tuesday's debate when he pledged to forgo his own pay if elected to Congress until unemployment drops in the Sacramento region.
"Here's my promise to you," Bera said in his closing statement of a Tuesday debate. "I pledge not to take any salary until unemployment in Sacramento is below 5 percent. I pledge not to take a pension until we've secured Social Security and Medicare for the next generation and our seniors."
Bera spokeswoman Allison Teixeira said today that the candidate has committed to "oppose congressional pay raises" until Sacramento unemployment levels, which are currently at more than 10 percent, drop to the rate referenced in his statement. He has featured that no pay increase pledge on his website and in his first television ad. She said Bera will consider the entitlement programs "secured" when they are "safe from being privatized by the Republicans," though she could not say whether Democratic control of Congress and the White House would meet that criteria.
Bera, who has never held public office, sought to make the pay and pensions of his opponent, GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, an issue during the afternoon debate sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio. He criticized Lungren for having pensions from service in state and federal office and a congressional salary. Lungren pointed out in response that he is not eligible to draw from his federal pension until he leaves office.
The hourlong event was the first formal debate for the two-time rivals, who also competed on the 2010 ballot. Lungren won that race by seven percentage points, though the state's new congressional maps have made the current district more competitive.
PHOTO CREDIT: Democrat Ami Bera, right, makes a point during Tuesday's debate with GOP Rep. Dan Lungren.