Former Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who sparked a libertarian movement that has rankled the GOP, has thrown his support behind a House candidate in California.
Paul endorsed former Capitol Hill aide Igor Birman in the 7th District, according to a letter shared first with CQ Roll Call.
Birman, who served as chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., is one of three Republicans seeking to oust freshman Rep. Ami Bera, a Democrat, from this competitive, Sacramento-based House district. "Igor Birman has seen first hand what happens when the government takes control of every aspect of your life," Paul said in the endorsement letter, referring to Birman's childhood in the Soviet Union before he and his family immigrated to the United States. "That experience will make him a valuable member of the House of Representatives and a leader for smaller government and more personal liberties."
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Birman, whose candidacy is backed by tea party-aligned groups such as FreedomWorks, faces former Rep. Doug Ose and businesswoman Elizabeth Emken, as well as Bera, in a top-two primary on June 3.
The top two vote recipients advance to the general in this competitive district, which President Barack Obama carried by a 4-point margin in 2012.
Privately, some GOP operatives argue that Ose's business-friendly background make him the Republican best suited to take on Bera in November.
The Birman-Ose match-up marks one of the cycle's top contests that pits tea party activists against business groups in the struggle to influence the direction of the House GOP caucus.
California’s 7th District is rated a Leans Democratic contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.