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California: Slaton Drops Bid, Boosts Democratic Unity in 3rd

Bill Slaton (D) dropped his campaign for California’s 3rd district seat Monday, clearing the Democratic primary field for physician Ami Bera. Slaton’s decision all but guarantees that Bera will avoid an expensive primary, strengthening Democrats’ chances against Rep. Dan Lungren (R).

Slaton, director of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, sent an e-mail to supporters that said it had become clear to him “that my best opportunity for service lies right here at home.—

“Working to develop the new energy economy and the green jobs we need is the challenge I truly want to tackle,— Slaton wrote. “Consequently, I am ending my campaign for Congress and will turn my full attention to the tremendous opportunities facing SMUD and the alternative energy start-ups locating here.—

Slaton offered his support to Bera, a political unknown who has wowed the political world with his prolific fundraising. Bera, the former chief medical officer for Sacramento County, raised $335,000 in the third quarter of the year and ended September with $586,000 in cash on hand. That tops Lungren, who reported $444,000 in the bank.

Slaton contributed nearly $300,000 to his campaign from his own pocket but still trailed Bera and Lungren in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter.

Democrats view the 3rd district seat as one of their best shots at a pickup in California. Lungren narrowly defeated underfunded Bill Durston (D) in 2008, and despite its traditional GOP lean, the district split almost evenly for President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race.

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