Republican congressional aide Igor Birman formally launched his campaign to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera on Thursday, saying his family's journey here nearly two decades ago from the Soviet Union inspired him to fight for freedom.
"This is actually pretty easy to sum up," said Birman, the chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, R- Elk Grove, after recounting his immigrant story. "My parents risked everything down to their lives to get me out of the Soviet Union where freedom did not exist and into the United States, which was founded on freedom. How could I possibly not dedicate my life to ensuring my children grow up to know the same freedom that I came here to find?
"That freedom now is in great jeopardy based on the policies of some leaders in our government."
Birman's event at the Folsom Amphitheater comes two days after former Rep. Doug Ose joined the list of Republicans vying for Bera's 7th Congressional District seat. Ose lost a congressional primary to McClintock in 2008, three years after relinquishing his own seat to fulfill a campaign promise. On Thursday, he released a list of Folsom supporters including Mayor Steve Miklos and Councilmen Andy Morin, Jeff Starsky and Ernie Sheldon.
"Having worked with Folsom leaders in the past, I understand what it takes to rebuild the local economy and create jobs, and how to work with local communities to ensure that their interests are well served in Washington D.C," Ose said.
The other Republican challenger is Elizabeth Emken, a former nonprofit executive who last year challenged U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The 7th Congressional District has been identified as a virtual toss-up that's expected to produce one of the most competitive and expensive races in the nation. The electorate is nearly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and GOP power brokers in Washington are expected to help their standard-bearer saturate the airwaves to avenge Bera's defeat of former Rep. Dan Lungren.