Former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif., announced Tuesday that he will challenge freshman Rep. Ami Bera in California's 7th District, becoming the second Republican candidate in an open primary field that is expected to grow in the coming weeks.
Ose represented a large chunk of the redrawn 7th District from 1999 to 2005, when he retired after a self-imposed term-limit was up. In a release, Ose's campaign said the former congressman's name ID and familiarity among the district's constituents give him a leg up in this contest.
Ose joins Republican Elizabeth Emken, a two-time failed congressional candidate who has already announced she is running. Igor Birman, chief of staff to California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, is poised to make an announcement about the race later this month.
The 7th District race is expected to be one of the most competitive contests this cycle, as Bera won the seat in 2012 by a slim 2-point margin.
However, a bitter Republican primary, which one local group of GOP activists promised if Ose were to get in the race, could hurt the party's chances of picking up this seat. The 7th District is rated a Lean Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
In 2008, when Ose waged his first comeback bid, the Club for Growth helped defeat him in a Republican primary against McClintock. While the group has not said definitively if it will get involved in this race now that Ose is in, spokesman Barney Keller said in July that Ose "is no friend to the pro-growth cause" and “if he were to run for Congress, we’d look at seeking out a viable conservative alternative.”