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FreedomWorks for America, a tea-party aligned super PAC, has reported spending nearly $20,000 to boost the prospects of Igor Birman, one of three Republicans challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove.

With just a month to go until the primary election, the group paid more than $18,000 for phone calls to promote Birman, on leave as the chief of staff to Republican Rep. Tom McClintock. It also helped to send emails, hang signs and push out social media and web ads, according to figures reported this week.

"Igor is an important race to us and we are going to do what we can," said Adam Brandon, executive vice president of FreedomWorks. "Not to give anything away, but you'll definitely see more grassroots" activity.

Internal polls show Birman in third place behind Bera and former Republican Rep. Doug Ose, though the margin in two of the private surveys has Birman within striking distance of second place. The top-two finishers on June 3 advance to November.

The fundraising picture has been less fluid. Ose, who contributed $250,000 on his own behalf, far outpaces his GOP rivals Birman and Elizabeth Emken in money raised and cash on hand to use in the primary and general elections.

The relatively modest outside expenditures to flow into the race so far include an additional $16,000 in mailers attacking Ose from the organization Gun Owners of America.

The 7th district, which includes much of suburban Sacramento County, is expected to host one of the most expensive contests in California.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to correct the amount spent by FreedomWorks. The figure was inadvertently double counted on federal reports.

PHOTO: Republican Igor Berman, running in the 7th Congressional District, listens to his parents talk before speaking with voters at a small private gathering in Elk Grove in February. The Sacramento Bee/Jose Luis Villegas



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