Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Ex-Member, Rival's Aide Battle for Calif. District

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
A handful of GOP candidates are running to challenge Bera in a district with a fairly even split of Democratic and Republican voters.

The conservative barrage would be a familiar circumstance for Ose. In 2008, the club helped McClintock defeat Ose in his first comeback bid. They spent heavily to attack his House record. Ose served three terms, from 1999 to 2005.

The attack worked: Ose lost the primary by 15 points.

GOP strategists say a bitter primary battle between Ose and Birman this time around may carve a path to victory for Emken.

She has run two unsuccessful bids for Congress, in 2010 and 2012, and has been willing to use her personal funds for campaigns.

“As Igor and Ose are beating each other up, voters may look for an alternative, and that’s where Elizabeth will pick up the collateral,” said California Republican consultant Jason Roe, an adviser to Emken’s campaign.

No matter who comes through the costly and divisive primary on the GOP side, Democrats argue Bera will be able to sit on the sidelines and stash away his campaign cash for the general.

Republicans counter that California’s early June primary will allow the Republican nominee to rebuild in time to run a competitive race in the general.

“I’m not going to tell you that a contested primary is the optimal situation,” said GOP operative Chris Baker, who is working on Birman’s campaign. “But I also think that it’s not as big of an advantage. ... Whoever the nominee is will have several months to refuel and be in a position to financially compete with Bera.”

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