Republican jockeying to unseat Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, continued Tuesday, with Washington-based FreedomWorks PAC endorsing former congressional aide Igor Birman over former Rep. Doug Ose in the 7th district.
Birman, the ex-chief of staff to Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, is taking on Ose, who relinquished his seat after serving three terms in the House, and autism activist Elizabeth Emken, who last year finished a distant second to Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The support of FreedomWorks, which typically backs tea party candidates and causes, could help Birman brandish his conservative credentials in the suburban district that's nearly evenly divided between registered Republicans and Democrats. The group spent $19.6 million in the 2012 election cycle, nearly all of it supporting Republicans or opposing Democrats.
Birman was the clear choice for limited-government voters looking to preserve economic freedom and rein in Washington's out-of-control spending, FreedomWorks PAC President Matt Kibbe said in a release.
"Congress has been auctioning off our rights for years, and both Republicans and Democrats are to blame. The constituents of California deserve better than a rank and file follower or a recycled politician searching for another turn in the spotlight," Kibbe said. "Igor is a policy expert who understands exactly what needs to be done to get our country back on track and he has the spine to stand up and make sure it happens."
Ose noted the unanimous support he's received from elected councilmembers in Folsom and Citrus Heights.
"I offer real solutions for the people here in the greater Sacramento area and have a proven record of cutting taxes, budget reform and creating jobs," he said. "This is why I have earned the support of so many local leaders who want their community's interests well served in Washington DC."
The district has been described as a virtual toss-up and is again expected to produce one of the most expensive races in the country.
Birman, who with his family emigrated from Russia to the U.S. in 1994, has largely framed his campaign as a fight for freedom.
"His personal experience with central government control of daily life gives him a unique and valuable perspective that too few others in Congress have," Kibbe added.
Editor's note: This post was updated at 2:25 p.m. with Ose's response.
PHOTO: Igor Birman, left, poses with his former boss, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, at Birman's campaign kick-off this month. The Sacramento Bee/Christopher Cadelago.