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The National Republican Congressional Committee doesn't want to pick sides — not yet at least.

In three identically worded emails, the organization announced that Elizabeth Emken, Doug Ose and Igor Berman had been selected for the candidate-boosting "On the Radar" program. Each of them, according to the emails, is "certain" to be "a strong contender this election cycle."

But all three candidates are vying to unseat freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, in California's 7th Congressional District. Emken, Berman and Ose may share a party affiliation, but for the purposes of the 2014 election they remain rivals.

The program is intended to provide advice and guidance to promising candidates without elevating one Republican over the others, NRCC spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said. Candidates must provide regular updates on whether they are meeting benchmarks in areas like finances and media planning.

"We don't endorse a candidate in the primary, but if we have someone that is meeting these thresholds we are helpful to them," Marre said.

Bera's district represents a competitive target for both parties, with all three of the Republican contenders already stocking their war chests. Bera's district is one of a few California seats getting attention from the national parties.

PHOTO: Democratic congressional candidate Ami Bera with campaign supporters at the Elks Lodge in Carmichael on Nov. 6, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo.



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