Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, on Oct. 6 failed to obtain enough votes to gain pre-endorsement from Democratic delegates in his Congressional district.
That district is California’s 7th Congressional District, which covers most of eastern Sacramento County from Elk Grove to Citrus Heights to Folsom.
Bera needed to receive 70% of the votes cast at the Democratic Party’s pre-endorsement conference. He instead earned 61.5% of the votes, with 48 out of the 78 votes coming for Bera.
The congressman can still earn his party’s endorsement, but now must wait until the state endorsement conference next month in Long Beach. At that conference, he will need to receive 60% of the votes to be officially endorsed by his party.
Democrat Jeff Burdock, Bera’s only challenger, did not receive any of the 78 votes, and 30 votes were cast in the category of “no endorsement.”
Bera spoke on the result of the pre-endorsement vote.
“I’m proud to have received the overwhelming support of delegates at the pre-endorsement conference, and I look forward to receiving the endorsement at the state convention in Long Beach,” he said. “I’ll continue to be a strong advocate for the people of Sacramento County, and pursue policies that move our families forward.”
Burdick told the Citizen that the result of the pre-endorsement vote underscores the competitiveness of the Congressional District 7 primary election.
“What it shows is that the support isn’t as much as you would expect from a four-term member of Congress,” he said. “It confirms what I already knew about the support within the district.
“It really goes back to the fact that our district is now solidly Democratic, as opposed to being a swing district when he first won the district back in 2012. We’re now solidly blue. We have 25% more registered Democrats than Republicans in the district.”
Bera, who has experienced close general election challenges en route to his Congressional seat victories, is not unfamiliar with losing pre-endorsements.
In January 2016, for instance, he received the same percentage – 61% – of the pre-endorsement votes from Democratic delegates in his Congressional district. About a month later, Bera received his party’s endorsement at the state convention in San Jose.
Burdick said that he believes that the recent outcome of the pre-endorsement vote provides evidence that the district will remain a very competitive district in the primary.
A unique aspect of that election will be the presence of two Democrats on the primary ballot for the first time since 1998, when the district was known as District 3.
Burdick said that he is currently feeling “really good” about his campaign, which he said focuses on Medicare for all, comprehensive prescription drug cost reform, and the Green New Deal.
“What I often say is there’s that (boxer) Mike Tyson quote about (how) everyone has a plan until they get in the ring and get hit,” he said. “For me, I’ve been running in the ring for four months, and I’m pleased to say that the plan we (have met all our) expectations. It’s all running according to plan.
“We’re still working on our campaign to get our message out and get visibility for who we are, what we stand for and we’ve found really good reception to the very principal platform that I’m running on, including my pledge not to take any donations from anyone who cannot vote for me.”
Burdick recently gained the support of the John F. Kennedy Democratic Club of Sacramento County, which endorsed him in his campaign against Bera.
Amar Shergill, an Elk Grove resident and the chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, responded to Bera’s inability to obtain sufficient pre-endorsement votes from his Democratic delegates.
“(Bera) got 93% of the appointed delegates that owed their seats to somebody else, but only 25% of the delegates that are free to vote their conscious,” he said. “So, I think what it tells us is that he doesn’t have the support of people that are connected to working families in his district.
“He has a long history of supporting pro-corporate policies that increase profits for insurance companies and campaign contributors that hurt average working families here in Elk Grove. The results reflect that.”
Shergill also mentioned Bera’s challenger.
“I think Burdick has a relatively new campaign, so I’m sure he’s going to use the next month to reach out to voters to convince them that he’s the better option,” he said.