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California - 3rd District

Incumbent -- Dan Lungren (R) ; Running for re-election

Leans Republican
Race Ratings Key

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

The first clue that Lungren could be vulnerable was when his winning percentage in 2008 dropped 10 points from the previous election, to 49 percent. Lungren, who returned to Congress in 2004 after two terms as state attorney general and an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, outspent his opponent 2-to-1.

This cycle, physician Ami Bera (D) has so far outraised and outspent him. Bera launched his first TV ad on Sept. 14 and plans to be on the air through the election. By late September, Lungren still was not on TV in the Sacramento-based district, but he had plans to go up soon. He was on the radio for most of September.

Still, an automated poll taken just after Bera went on the air found Lungren ahead by 8 points, though below 50 percent. Bera has gone after Lungren for accepting a large pay raise shortly before leaving the attorney general's office, thereby boosting his pension -- a timely issue in the cash-strapped state.

A government watchdog group had also gone on TV attacking Lungren for a lobbyist-hosted fundraiser in Hawaii and for opposing the Fair Elections Now Act.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 3rd stretches west from Alpine County on the Nevada border, bends around Sacramento and reaches Solano County, near Napa. It experiences periodic flooding from the Sacramento and American rivers, making water and flood control important local issues. The politically competitive district is predominately white and white-collar.

More than 80 percent of the 3rd's population comes from a chunk of Sacramento County that includes the Sacramento suburbs of Citrus Heights and Rio Linda. Many residents here moved to the 3rd to work in state government or to escape the state's more crowded urban areas while still working in the technology industries. Folsom, to Sacramento's northeast, is home to an Intel campus partially powered by a nearly 6-acre solar field, but the Sacramento suburbs are looking to rebound from falling home values and high unemployment rates.

Wineries and agriculture dominate the 3rd's economy. Amador County, southeast of Sacramento, is home to several large wineries. Elsewhere, growers rely on grape, almond and prune production, except in forestry-heavy Alpine County, where mountains and skiing are prevalent. McClellan Air Force Base closed in 2001 and was converted into a business park north of Sacramento (shared with the 5th) that has successfully attracted high-tech and manufacturing businesses.

Sacramento County in the district's western arm is the politically competitive heart of the 3rd, while neighboring Amador and Calaveras counties tend to be largely rural and Republican. Entirely rural and sparsely populated Alpine County bucks that trend, though, and its voters increasingly support Democrats at the federal level. The 3rd was the only district statewide to back Demcorat Jerry Brown in 2010 while re-electing a Republican to the U.S. House.

Major Industry

Agriculture, timber, technology


Elk Grove (pt.), 151,433; Citrus Heights, 83,301; Folsom, 72,203; Carmichael (unincorporated) 61,762


Folsom Powerhouse, which was completed in 1895 and is now the site of a state park, was the nation's first long-distance hydroelectric power plant.




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