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Democratic Rep. Ami Bera Holds On in California’s 7th District

Race called 10 days after Election Day

California Rep. Ami Bera has eked out another close win in the 7th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
California Rep. Ami Bera has eked out another close win in the 7th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

California Rep. Ami Bera has won a third term representing the state’s 7th District, defeating Republican opponent Scott Jones. 

Ten days after Election Day, The Associated Press called the race Friday after updated election results showed Bera extending his lead over Jones by more than 2 percentage points. 

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bera led Jones by 6,008 votes, 51 percent to 49 percent. 

California election officials are still processing mail-in ballots that were brought in on Election Day or received by mail in the days after, The Sacramento Bee reported.

[Election Results 2016]

“It’s been my honor to serve this community first as a doctor and for these past four years as a member of Congress,” Bera said in a statement Friday afternoon. “After months of a divisive national election, our job now is to bring our country back together.”

The incumbent was a top target for Republicans after his father pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to his son’s campaigns. In early October, Bera trailed Jones, Sacramento County sheriff, by 5 points in a National Republican Congressional Committee poll.

Yet, the incumbent’s favorables, a key indicator of how people might vote, remained high. And Jones brought his own issues to the race, with him facing allegations of unwanted sexual advances.

Jones was in Washington this week, attending new member orientation with the rest of the incoming class of 2016 as the race had not been called. 

For Bera, the win marked his third consecutive close election in the 7th District, located in the eastern suburbs of Sacramento. The district has a nearly identical number of registered Republicans and Democrats. Up until Election Day, The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rated the race as Leans Democratic.  

Only three House races remain uncalled: California’s 49th District where incumbent GOP Rep. Darrell Issa has a 2-point edge over Democratic challenger Doug Applegate with more mail-in and provisional ballots still left to be counted; and Louisiana’s 3rd and 4th districts, which will be decided in run-offs on Dec. 10. 

[Ami Bera’s Father Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Fraud]

Bera is one of the few Democratic doctors in the 114th Congress. That distinction, along with a public commitment to bipartisan collaboration, has guided the start of his legislative career.

In 1999, he signed on as the chief medical officer for Sacramento County, and five years later he became an administrator and professor at the medical school for the University of California, Davis. As Bera tells it, a lack of progress on some of the more daunting policy questions facing the nation spurred him to become a candidate in 2010. He lost to Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, but won the rematch two years later.

Bera is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a more business-friendly part of his party’s caucus. But he has also tried to build a political identity around No Labels, a bipartisan group that aims to improve how Congress functions.

He voted against all the partisan fiscal 2014 budgets that came to the House floor, and he has supported a handful of Republican bills designed to ease federal regulation.

In the 115th Congress, Bera will be joined by four incoming Indian-American members — fellow Californians Sen.-elect Kamala Harris and Rep.-elect Ro Khanna, Rep.-elect Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Rep.-elect Pramila Jayapal of Washington. 

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