Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 31, 2012
Capitol Alert's top 10 posts of 2012

California's state budget. Public-sector pensions. Taxes.

The Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert readers avidly followed those issues this year, as the blog's top 10 posts of 2012 show. Here's the list, in reverse order:

MC_BERA_07.JPGNo. 10: "Rep. Dennis Cardoza announces resignation" (Aug. 14). In a surprise move citing his family's needs, the Merced Democrat said he was resigning from Congress.

No. 9: "FPPC says Arizona nonprofit laundered money to California campaign" (Nov. 5). "At $11 million, this is the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history," the Fair Political Practices Commission said in a news release.

No. 8: "Bera lead over Lungren wider in Sacramento County House race" (Nov. 9). Democrat Ami Bera wound up besting Republican Rep. Dan Lungren and will be sworn into Congress this week.

November 16, 2012
Lungren concedes in race against Bera

Lungren 2012.JPGGOP Rep. Dan Lungren conceded defeat today in his tight race for Congress against Democratic challenger Ami Bera.

"I am satisfied that enough votes have been counted to determine that I will not be representing the citizens of the 7th Congressional District during the 113th Congress. It was a tough campaign and I accept the outcome," Lungren wrote in a statement.

It continued:

"I congratulate Dr. Bera in his victory and I wish him well as he accepts this new challenge. It is my hope that Dr. Bera approaches Congress, as have I, with a humble heart, respect for the institution and a desire to perform his duties in the best interest of the people he represents and the country."

The latest results for the 7th Congressional District showed Bera with 51.11 percent of the vote and Lungren with 48.89 percent. The race has been watched nationwide because it was so competitive and expensive.

With votes still being counted, the Associated Press called the race for Bera Thursday but Lungren waited to concede.

Lungren's defeat comes after a long career in politics marked by both wins and losses. Lungren, 66, won a race against Bera in 2010 and has represented the Sacramento region in Congress since January 2005. He represented a Southern California district for a decade in the late 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, he served eight years as California's Attorney General, then lost a bid for governor in 1998.

A timeline of Lungren's career is here.

See complete coverage of the Lungren-Bera race here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican Rep. Dan Lungren looks over his ballots after voting Nov. 6 at Gold River Discovery Center School in Gold River. (The Sacramento Bee, Randy Pench)

November 9, 2012
Bera lead over Lungren wider in Sacramento County House race

Democrat Ami Bera has widened his lead over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, with the latest vote count this afternoon putting the challenger ahead by 1,779 votes in the suburban Sacramento swing seat.

The two rivals are still separated by less than one percentage point. Bera has won 50.43 percent of the 208,711 votes counted to Lungren's 49.57 percent. Election officials still need to process more than 100,000 ballots submitted throughout Sacramento County, a total that could include tens of thousands of votes in this race.

Bera led Lungren by 184 votes by the end of election night, when about 180,000 votes in the race had been tallied.

This year's battle between Lungren and Bera is one of the country's most competitive and costly congressional races. While Lungren beat Bera by seven percentage points in 2010, redistricting gave Democrats an edge in the suburban Sacramento seat. Outside groups poured more than $8 million into the contest, with pro-Bera forces outspending Lungren's allies by more than $2 million.

Sacramento County election officials plan to update the results again on Tuesday.

November 5, 2012
Bill Clinton calls voters for Ami Bera in Sacramento House race

Some voters in Sacramento County are getting calls from former President Bill Clinton ahead of Tuesday's election.

The former president has recorded a robocall in support of Democratic congressional candidate Ami Bera, who is locked in a close race with GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the suburban Sacramento 7th Congressional District. He's also featured in a call urging voters to oppose Proposition 32, a measure on campaign money fiercely opposed by unions.

Bera is one of at least 45 Democratic congressional candidates using the robocalls in the final days of the campaign, according to Roll Call newspaper. The former president also recorded calls for Jose Hernandez in the 10th Congressional District, Julia Brownley in the 26th Congressional District, Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District and Raul Ruiz in the 36th Congressional District.

Clinton has also campaigned alongside Democrats in California this year. He endorsed Bera and other Democrats running in competitive Northern California races during an October rally at University of California, Davis.

Click here to see the full list and listen to a recording.


Bill Clinton stumps for California Dems in tight congressional races

Dan Morain: Lungren, Bera vie for every last vote

Ad Watch: Deluge of ads at the wire

Editor note: an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the seat Raul Ruiz is seeking.

November 1, 2012
Dan Lungren dings Ami Bera for not showing up at local events

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren dinged Democratic challenger Ami Bera on Wednesday for being MIA at a series of local candidate appearances, characterizing such events as a way to add substance to a race dominated by heavy spending on attack ads.

"The way you get through the clutter of the negative ads and the way you actually revive the idea of a spirited debate between all of those candidates who are out there is to require people to show up at all of these forums so they can't hide behind the voters," he told KFBK's John McGinness during an afternoon radio appearance.

Lungren and Bera, competing for the second time in what is now the 7th Congressional District, squared off for the first time earlier this year in a Sept. 25 debate sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio. Both also participated in a late September candidate forum sponsored by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association.

October 30, 2012
Ami Bera puts focus on women's health issues in final stretch

fluke.JPGDemocratic congressional candidate Ami Bera is making issues surrounding women's reproductive health central to his closing argument in the 7th Congressional District.

With one week to go until Election Day, the Elk Grove Democrat brought in activist Sandra Fluke to speak to supporters, and launched a new television spot attacking GOP Rep. Dan Lungren on his positions on abortion and access to contraception.

Bera framed the issue as a personal one when speaking to supporters at his Elk Grove campaign office this morning, citing his experiences as a doctor and a father to a teenage girl. But he also slammed the Republican-controlled Congress for "rolling back" health care access for women while the economy is in rough shape, calling such actions the "greatest travesty."

"They've forgotten what they were elected to do," he said.

October 16, 2012
Outside groups spend big in 7th Congressional District race

Congressional hopefuls put their fall cash hauls on public display Monday, the filing deadline for third quarter fundraising reports.

But those reports, which covered money raised and spent through Sept. 30, don't show the full picture of spending in many contested races. Much of the big-money action in House races across the country this year is coming from super PACS and political party committees.

That's the case in the 7th Congressional District, where Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera are locked in a tight race.

October 6, 2012
Bill Clinton coming to Davis to endorse Democratic candidates

Former President Bill Clinton is coming to the Sacramento area Tuesday to throw his support behind four Democrats running in some of the country's most closely watched congressional races.

Clinton is scheduled to appear alongside incumbent Democratic Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney and challengers Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez at a 10:30 a.m. rally at the University of California, Davis, campus.

All four candidates are running in districts that are considered top targets by both Democrats and Republicans as they battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. National party organizations and federal super PACs are already spending heavily in the Sacramento media market, which covers all four seats.

October 1, 2012
CA high-speed rail funding gets little love at candidate forum

California's bullet train won little support from congressional hopefuls from the Sacramento region Sunday, with just one of five congressional candidates participating in an election forum vowing to vote for federal funding for the project.

Third Congressional District candidate Kim Vann , Rep. Dan Lungren, and 9th Congressional District candidate Ricky Gill, all Republicans, and Democrat Ami Bera, who is challenging Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, all came down against funding construction of the high-speed rail line, citing the high cost of the project.

"We have failing infrastructure all over the state," said Vann, a Colusa County supervisor. "Until we address the failing infrastructure that we have, we shouldn't be planning for something that we cannot afford today."  

September 30, 2012
Lungren makes Bera's gas tax comments an issue at forum

Rep. Dan Lungren blasted Democratic challenger Ami Bera Sunday afternoon over comments he reportedly made in support of increased gas taxes, accusing his challenger in the 7th Congressional District of pursuing a vision of "tax and spend."

"He wants you to pay more at the pump than you do now, not for infrastructure but for punishing you, because he says as a doctor he knows how that's changed (behavior)," the Gold River Republican said at a forum sponsored by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association. "Well I guess the single mom who has to drive her child to soccer ought to be punished for that. They ought to pay higher rates. You see his answer every time is to tax more, tax more, tax more."

Lungren was citing comments Bera reportedly made to more than 7,500 voters during a 2010 telephone town hall conducted by the Democrat's first campaign to unseat the incumbent Republican congressman.

"One idea that certainly is out there is thinking about a gas tax to reduce consumption," Bera said at the time, according to the Elk Grove Citizen. "As a doctor, (I) certainly saw what happened to smoking rates (with cigarette taxes), so that's something that's worth exploring."

September 28, 2012
U.S. Chamber launches ad blitz against California Democrats

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun a multimillion-dollar television ad buy blasting Democratic congressional candidates in California, including three in the Sacramento area.

The ads from the Washington-based business group hammer both incumbents and challengers for supporting taxes or President Barack Obama's national healthcare overhaul. Many of the ads warn seniors of a $716 billion reduction in Medicare spending, an attack Democrats counter is misleading because the reductions are envisioned over time from providers and insurers and would not affect services.

September 26, 2012
Video replay: Dan Lungren-Ami Bera debate in Sacramento

Candidates for congressional District 7 -- Republican Congressman Dan Lungren and Democrat Dr. Ami Bera -- faced off Tuesday in their first debate. The district includes several Sacramento suburbs like Citrus Heights, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. The race is considered one of the nation's most competitive congressional contests.

The debate, sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio, featured questions from panelists Dan Smith, Bee Capitol Bureau chief; News10 Political Editor John Myers; and Capital Public Radio senior reporter Marianne Russ.

See the hourlong debate in five segments:

September 26, 2012
Lungren backed 'forcible rape' bill before language was removed

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren distanced himself from controversial bill language involving abortion funding in cases of "forcible rape" during a Tuesday debate with 7th Congressional District rival Ami Bera, saying he told the original sponsors of House Resolution 3 that he "would not support" the proposal unless the word "forcible" was taken out.

"So in fact, if you're talking about the mistake they made, I was the one who pointed it out," Lungren said. "... I can tell you it was after I went to them and told them I couldn't support it if they didn't take the word forcible out that they changed it."

Congressional records show, however, that Lungren signed on as a cosponsor of the bill when the legislation was first introduced, before 'forcible' was deleted from the text.

September 26, 2012
Ami Bera says he will take congressional pay if elected after all

lungrenbera.jpgElk 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.

September 25, 2012
Medicare, personal attacks dominate Lungren-Bera debate

There were no shortage of political and personal swipes as Republican Rep. Dan Lungren and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera took the stage for the first and only scheduled debate of one of the nation's most competitive congressional contests.

The rivals for Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District traded jabs on a variety of issues, including job creation, health care and immigration, during the hourlong debate at the News10 studios in Sacramento.

Some of the most heated exchanges, however, occured during the back-and-forth over both parties' plans for Medicare, the federal health care program for seniors. Both candidates accused the other of backing changes to the program that would lead to reduced access and higher costs for the region's seniors.

September 25, 2012
Live chat replay: Dan Lungren-Ami Bera debate

September 21, 2012
Democrats regain registration edge in Lungren-Bera seat

Democrats have regained a slight voter registration edge in the hotly contested 7th Congressional District, though the two parties still represent almost equal shares of voters heading into the Nov. 6 rematch between Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera.

The latest voter registration figures, released today by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, show Democrats leading 39.16 percent to 38.37 percent - a margin of 2,822 voters. Independent voters who decline to state a party preference accounted for 18.25 percent of the electorate. The numbers have flipped since late May, when Republicans were up by 888 voters.

The race between Lungren and Bera is considered one of November's most competitive congressional races.

September 20, 2012
Ask Dan Lungren and Ami Bera a question

The Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio are sponsoring a debate next Tuesday in the 7th Congressional District contest pitting Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, against his Democratic challenger, Dr. Ami Bera of Elk Grove.

The hour-long debate will be webcast live on at 3 p.m. with full coverage online and in Wednesday's printed Bee.

Here's where you can help. Send us your questions for one or both of the candidates. We'll sift through them and try to ask one during the debate. Email your question with your name, city of residence and phone number to Dan Smith, Bee Capitol Bureau Chief, at

September 20, 2012
Poll: Should the national political conventions get tax dollars?

Rep. Dan Lungren wasn't in Tampa as other members of the GOP gathered for the Republican National Convention last month.

Now, the Gold River Republican is part of a bipartisan push to ensure taxpayer cash skips out on the quadrennial political conventions, too.

Lungren voted aye this week on federal legislation to prohibit the use of public funds for the national nominating conventions, which are currently partially subsidized by taxpayers who elect to send some of their own tax dollars to a public campaign financing fund.

The Associated Press quoted Lungren as calling the events ""weeklong televised movie sets and almost entirely symbolic."

"American taxpayers should not be subsidizing political party conventions," he said.

September 11, 2012
Congressional rivals Dan Lungren, Ami Bera to debate Sept. 25

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera have agreed to debate later this month.

The Sept. 25 debate, sponsored by The Sacramento Bee, News10 and Capital Public Radio, is the first for the 7th Congressional District rivals, who also went head to head on the 2010 ballot.

The debate, to be held at News10's Sacramento studios, will stream live on and the other sponsors' sites at 3 p.m. on Sept. 25. It will air the following day on News10 and Capital Public Radio. News10 Political Editor John Myers, Bee Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith and Capital Public Radio senior reporter Marianne Russ will serve as panelists for the debate, which will include reader-submitted queries and questions posed by the candidates themselves.

A close registration split in the eastern Sacramento County district and the expectation of heavy spending by both candidates and outside groups has made it one of the most competitive and closely watched congressional contests in the country this year.

"That's why this is such an important election for us locally," Bee's Publisher and President Cheryl Dell said in a statement. "The newly redrawn district includes so much of our readership area that we feel it is important for voters to hear from the candidates themselves on the issues that matter in the region."

August 22, 2012
Democrats make Akin rape remarks an issue in CA House race

Democrats are working to make a Missouri congressman's controversial comment about rape an issue in the heated 7th Congressional District race.

Republican Rep. Todd Akin has come under fire from politicians on both sides of the aisle for saying in a televised interview that a woman's body has the ability to block pregnancy in cases of what he called "legitimate rape." He has apologized for the remarks, but rejected calls from Republican leaders and politicians, including presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, to drop his U.S. Senate campaign against Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, denounced the comments in a statement posted to his campaign Twitter feed Tuesday.

August 2, 2012
Dan Lungren goes on air with new ad during Olympic Games

Rep. Dan Lungren is looking to tap into the patriotic sentiments of the Olympics as he seeks another term in Congress, airing a new campaign ad during coverage of the London games.

"It goes back to growing up. We were taught the American dream. We were taught that this country is exceptional," Lungren says over the soaring swells of violins amid images of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Gold River Republican goes on to cite quotations attributed to Presidents Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln, closing by telling viewers: "Those revolutionary ideas live now just as much as they did then."

The ad comes as Lungren is gearing up for a November rematch with Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera in the newly drawn 7th Congressional District. A close registration split in the Sacramento County seat has made the race a top target again this year. Many analysts believe this year's contest will be closer than in 2010, when Lungren won by seven percentage points.

A sense that you've seen the plaid shirt and country backdrop in the ads many times before doesn't necessarily mean you've been tuning in to too many hours of Olympics coverage. Campaign adviser Rob Stutzman confirmed that the the footage for the spot came from the same taping that was used for one of Lungren's 2010 ads.

July 18, 2012
Sacramento House seat makes list of districts likely to change hands

The National Journal has included 10 California districts in its new ranking of congressional seats most likely to change partisan control in the November election.

The rematch between Republican Rep. Dan Lungren and Democrat Ami Bera in East Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District was ranked the most competitive California seat, coming in 15th out of 75 hot races on the Washington, D.C.-based publication's list.

Other area races to make the most likely-to-flip list include the 9th Congressional District battle between Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney and Republican Ricky Gill and Democratic Rep. John Garamendi's re-election bid against Republican Kim Vann in the 3rd Congressional District.

Click here to see the full list.

July 17, 2012
Congressional campaign accounts tight in Sacramento races

Combatants in three closely-watched congressional races in the Sacramento region are starting the general election campaign with relatively even campaign bank accounts, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

In Eastern Sacramento County's CD 7, Republican Rep. Dan Lungren and Democratic challenger Ami Bera are launching the campaign with about $1.2 million each.

In CD 3, which stretches into Yolo County, Democratic Rep. John Garamendi and Republican Kim Vann each have about $200,000 in the bank.

And in San Joaquin's CD 9, Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney and Republican Ricky Gill each reported more than $1 million in cash, but Gill has $153,000 in debt to pay off.

July 9, 2012
Vote to repeal health care law fuels ads in Sacramento Co. race

An upcoming U.S. House of Representatives vote to repeal the federal health care law is fueling a new round of political ads in a heated East Sacramento County congressional race.

House Republicans announced plans for vote shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 2010 law backed by President Barack Obama. The Wednesday vote is seen largely as a political maneuver meant to energize voters opposed to the law, as any effort to repeal the health care overhaul has no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate.

But supporters of the law are also seeking to capitalize on the effort in the 7th Congressional District, where Democrat Ami Bera is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, for the second time.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a series of robocalls to independent voters last week, alleging that the Gold River Republican "wants to put insurance companies back in charge of our health care" by getting rid of the law. It followed up this week with a paid Web ad on YouTube highlighting provisions mandating preventative care and coverage for preexisting conditions that would be eliminated if that law is repealed.

Meanwhile, the American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group that does not have to disclose its donors, announced that it is sending voters in the district a mail piece urging Lungren to continue to fight for repeal. The group, which is spending $1.2 million on an "issue advocacy" campaign calling for repeal across the country, also ran an ad in Sunday's edition of The Sacramento Bee.

"The Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare. Congress has only one option: Repeal the President's government takeover of your healthcare," read both pieces, which contend the law will lead to new taxes and cuts to Medicare.

June 19, 2012
Dan Lungren defends embattled Sacramento GOP voter drive

Rep. Dan Lungren has come to the defense of a Sacramento County Republican Party voter registration drive that has come under fire for filing potentially fraudulent registration cards.

Lungren said he supported the voter drive and understood that there were sufficient safeguards in place to prevent fraud. "The overall registration effort made by the party was very successful. I am unaware of any single registration that was paid for by that program that had any problems," he said last week, adding that it's possible that the voters filling out the forms made mistakes.

Sacramento County election officials forwarded information about the registration effort to the Secretary of State last month after finding irregularities with the voter registration cards submitted by circulators working for Momentum Political Services, a firm hired by the Sacramento County Republican Party.

Lungren said it was his understanding that cards collected by the drive had to go through multiple validity checks before a payment to the vendor would be made, though he said he had to distance himself from the operation because of campaign finance laws.

Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera, who is challenging Lungren in November, has called for an investigation into the drive, writing in a letter to the Secretary of State that reports showed "3000 voter registration cards contained false or illegally changed information to inflate the amount of registered Republican voters in the newly drawn seventh Congressional District."

His campaign has raised questions about the Gold River Republican's involvement in the effort, pointing to a form submitted to county election officials that called the effort a "Lungren Voter Drive."

Lungren said last week that he supported the effort and did what was allowed under campaign finance laws to help the drive. At least two of his donors gave money to the county GOP's federal campaign committee last fall, but he declined to specify whether he solicited any contributions to help with voter registration.

"The law is so complicated that we're allowed to do certain things for certain days and then as you get closer to the election we're not allowed to. I can raise funds under certain circumstances and certain times and I can't raise it in others," he said. "Sometimes I can tell people there's a registration drive going on and if they want to send money they can, other times I can't even say that. So whatever the constraints were, we worked within them."

Representatives for the Secretary of State and the Sacramento County District Attorney's office, which would have power to prosecute, declined to comment on any complaints or investigations into the matter, citing confidentiality policies. The Secretary of State's elections fraud division said in a letter responding to Bera's complaint that they are "evaluating" the materials the campaign sent.

Lungren said he supports an investigation if evidence shows one is merited.

"Look, if there's any foul play, they ought to look at it, on any side," he said.


Suspicious voter registration cards found in Sacramento County

April 16, 2012
Dan Lungren outraises Ami Bera in Sacramento County district

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren took in more than $500,000 for his re-election campaign in the first three months of the year, outraising rival Ami Bera for the first time since the Elk Grove Democrat emerged on the fundraising scene in mid-2009.

Lungren, of Gold River, ended March with just under $900,000 on hand, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission. Bera, whose filing has not yet appeared on the FEC website, said in a release issued last week that he raised $366,000. He ended the quarter with a cash advantage over his rival, saying he has roughly $1.15 million in the bank heading into the June 5 primary.

Bera, who lost to Lungren in 2010 by seven percentage points, had outraised Lungren in every quarterly filing period since the July 2009 reports. Lungren consultant Rob Stutzman said while both candidates took in significant sums, the latest numbers reverse "what has been what has been a mostly two-year streak."

"He's finding a lot of support and he's working very hard to gather the resources to take on Bera," Stutzman said of Lungren.

Bera's campaign, meanwhile, touted its own numbers as a sign of "grassroots" support, saying in a release that 60 percent of donors this quarter were giving to the campaign for the first time.

A close registration split has made the newly drawn 7th Congressional District a top target this election. Lungren and Bera have huge fund-raising advantages over the other two candidates running in the primary and are expected to face off in a rematch in November.

April 11, 2012
GOP gains registration edge in Rep. Dan Lungren's seat

Republicans have gained a slight voter registration edge in the targeted 7th Congressional District, closing for now a gap Democrats had argued would help challenger Ami Bera defeat GOP Rep. Dan Lungren.

The two major parties are now neck and neck in the competitive east Sacramento County district, with each representing about 38.7 percent of registered voters, according to updated figures from Sacramento County election officials. The new report shows Republicans outnumbering Democrats by a mere 202 voters.

That margin has closed significantly since January, when registration reports showed Democrats holding a one-point, 3,773-voter lead.

While Republicans were quick to credit voter registration efforts for the change, the number of registered voters in both parties -- and in the district as a whole -- fell in the new report.

April 10, 2012
Carmichael billboard targets Rep. Dan Lungren on Medicare

Billboard.jpgNational Democrats are taking their campaign against Rep. Dan Lungren to, well, above, the streets.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it has put up a billboard in Carmichael hitting the Gold River Republican on his support for a Republican budget plan that would make major changes to Medicare. The billboard, which was erected by the intersection of Fair Oaks Blvd. and Garfield Ave., accuses Lungren of "Protecting Millionaires Instead of Medicare," according to a photo provided by the committee.

Democrats are hoping to make Medicare a major issue in the 7th Congressional District race between Lungren and Ami Bera, the Elk Grove Democrat who also challenged Lungren in 2010. They argue that provisions in the House GOP budget plan, which Lungren supports, will end up increasing health care costs for future seniors while providing tax cuts for the wealthy.

Lungren's consultant has dismissed the tactic in the past, arguing that voters will be more concerned by the effect the federal health care overhaul could have on the health care program for seniors and the disabled.


Voters in Sacramento-area district hit with political claims over Medicare

Dan Lungren ramps up re-election efforts in Sacramento Co. seat

Democrats targeting Reps. Jeff Denham and Dan Lungren again

PHOTO CREDIT: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put up a billboard targeting Rep. Dan Lungren in the 7th Congressional District. Photo courtesy of the DCCC.

March 20, 2012
Democrat Ami Bera says Obama hasn't done enough on economy

Congressional candidate Ami Bera is once again distancing himself from the country's top Democrat as he heads into the first of what could be two election battles with Republican Rep. Dan Lungren.

The Elk Grove Democrat, who is challenging Lungren in the newly drawn 7th Congressional District, was critical of President Barack Obama's record on improving the economic climate in an interview with News 10 this week.

"I don't think the president did enough in his first years in office," Bera said, noting Sacramento County's roughly 11 percent unemployment rate.

Bera, who called job creation "jobs one, two and three," said he believes officials need to look at both cutting regulations to help small businesses and approving shovel-ready projects, such as work on California's roads and levees, to put people back to work.

Bera tried to distance himself from Obama and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the 2010 campaign, too, without success.

At one point he declared that "If I thought the Democrats were doing the right job in this country with moving forward, I wouldn't be running," and later said he would have been "reluctant" to vote for the health care law Obama and Pelosi championed

Still, two weeks before the 2010 election, a conservative group with ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove, aired a campaign ad asserting that Bera didn't think the overhaul of the nation's health care system went far enough.

"I've been consistent. I think the Affodable Care Act, the health care reform by President Obama misses the point," Bera said in the News 10 interview. "We've got to address the cost of health care. Far too many families, far too many business owners are paying more and more every year and we're getting less and less."

He said Obama's failure to take on the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to lower the cost of health care is "one of the biggest disappointments" of the overhaul.

March 13, 2012
Dan Lungren ramps up re-election efforts in Sacramento Co. seat

Rep. Dan Lungren is stepping up his re-election efforts this week, raising cash, recruiting volunteers and holding town hall meetings in his Sacramento County district.

The Gold River Republican faces a rematch with his 2010 challenger, Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera, in the newly drawn 7th Congressional District. A close voter registration split and high turnout in the presidential election are expected to make the race one of the most competitive congressional elections of the year.

Lungren, who has trailed his opponent in campaign cash both this election and in 2010, got some help from Republican leadership for a Monday fundraiser in Sacramento. House Speaker John Boehner flew into town for yesterday afternoon's reception at the California Chamber of Commerce's downtown office. A photo with the Ohio Republican set attendees back $5,000, according to a posting on Capitol Morning Report.

Lungren, meanwhile, took a shot at Democratic congressional leadership in a Monday email seeking money and volunteer commitments from supporters.

"Nancy Pelosi is already pouring money into the district, and every dollar helps," read a Lungren campaign email titled "The campaign begins today."

Pelosi, the Democratic leader, has identified flipping the seat as a top priority in her effort to win back control of the House. House Majority PAC, an independent campaign committee supporting House Democrats, has already been on the air with television ads opposing Lungren.

Lungren is also holding town hall meetings this week in Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova and Angels Camp. The first event is tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Citrus Heights Community Center.

Lungren consultant Rob Stutzman said the campaign is "preparing for a huge battle" with this week's events.

"Pelosi has to beat Lungren to retake the Speaker's gavel," he wrote in an email. "We're not going to show up with padded gloves."

Friday was the deadline for candidates to file for the east Sacramento County seat, which stretches from Elk Grove to Citrus Heights. A full list of candidates was not immediately available, but Lungren and Bera, a doctor and former Associate Dean for Admissions at the UC Davis School of Medicine, will likely face off both in the June primary and the November general election under the state's new top-two primary system.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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