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Dan Lungren, Ami Bera face off for 3rd Congressional District: Will it be close?

In race to represent Galt, other communities, Bera says it’s ‘neck-and-neck’ while Lungren says Republican voter numbers have grown

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Ami Bera

Dan Lungren

Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 5:56 am, Wed Oct 20, 2010.

Political observers expect a horse race in Republican Dan Lungren’s re-election effort against Democrat Ami Bera for the right to represent Galt and other communities in the 3rd Congressional District.

“This is a race that is neck-and-neck,” said Bera, a physician who lives in Elk Grove. “It may come to one vote.”

But Lungren isn’t so sure.

“Some national folks say it’s close race, but we’ve increased registration in the district,” Lungren said.

Lungren says his camp has added 16,000 to 20,000 new Republican voters in the past two years.

As of Sept. 3, Republicans in District 3 outnumbered Democrats by a 40-38 percent margin.

Lungren, who lived in Roseville before moving to Gold River six years ago to live within the 3rd Congressional District, is a political veteran, having represented the Long Beach area in Congress for 10 years before serving Galt and other parts of Sacramento and Yolo counties for six more. In between, he was California’s attorney general from 1991 through 1999.

Also seeking the congressional seat are Jerry L. Leidecker, an American Independent Party member from Fair Oaks; Michael “Mike” Roskey, a Peace and Freedom candidate from Wilton; and Douglas “Art” Tuma, a Libertarian from Antelope.

The 3rd District also includes Amador, Calaveras and Alpine counties, but the district’s population base remains in Sacramento County.

While Lungren is a veteran of the state and national scene, Bera is running for the first time. That’s because he doesn’t like what’s going on in Congress — from Democrats or Republicans.

“I don’t think our elected leadership is serving us,” Bera said. “The current politicians have been in office their whole lives. I’m running because we need something different.”

While Bera says he would prefer Congress to be in the political center and be more willing to compromise on legislation, Lungren prides himself for his skillful negotiations with Democrats.

“I’ve been critical of the Democratic leadership and Republican leadership when they had control,” Lungren said.

If the Republicans take control of the House after the Nov. 2 election, the leadership will be different than either party’s current leadership style. In fact, Lungren predicts that under a Republican Congress, Democrats will be given a greater chance to participate in legislative discussions.

Here are some of the positions of the two major candidates:

Q: How would you reduce the national debt?

Bera: When legislation is enacted, the bill must include a provision on how to pay for it. Bills must also show what will be cut from the budget to compensate.

Lungren: Use zero-based budgeting where every federal agency has to justify every dollar it spends. Each agency should prioritize its budget — perhaps a Top 10 list — and cut from the bottom.

Q: How should Congress deal with Afghanistan/Pakistan?

Lungren: Defense is the federal government’s most essential obligation. America’s best interest is to succeed in Afghanistan.

Bera: America has to be safe, and borders must be secure. President Barack Obama needs to very clearly articulate what America’s goal is in the Middle East and how to measure progress on achieving that goal.

Q: Do you approve of the health care plan that Obama signed this year?

Bera: Congress needs to make sure insurance companies take care of patients. For example, they shouldn’t be able to drop someone from coverage when they get cancer.

Lungren: Repeal the plan and adopt a new one. Supports patients being allowed to purchase insurance coverage across state lines to provide more options. He would also like to offer groups such as service clubs and business organizations to purchase group insurance.

Q: Should the federal government have controls on Wall Street and banks?

Lungren: There were some mistakes in the Wall Street reform bill approved this year. Voted for one of the bills that now restricts what credit card companies can do. Before changing the law, Congress needs to wait a year and see how the current legislation affects consumers and the banking industry.

Bera: Many customers in debt want to work with the banks, but the banks aren’t willing to work with them. Supports encouraging banks to lend more to small business.

Q: How will your role differ whether the Democrats retain control of Congress or the Republicans win the majority in November?

Lungren: Says he already works with both parties and that Democrats will have greater participation under Republican leadership.

Bera: Says he will his do best to represent the people of the 3rd Congressional District no matter what.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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