California: Lungren May Have to Grin and Bera It in ’10

Posted October 14, 2009 at 6:53pm

Physician Ami Bera (D) kept up his blistering fundraising pace in the third quarter, raising $335,000 for his campaign to unseat Rep. Dan Lungren (R).

Bera ended the quarter with $586,000 in cash on hand.

The former chief medical officer for Sacramento County made a splash in July when he announced he had raised more than $288,000 in his first few months of fundraising, ranking him seventh among House challengers nationally for the second quarter.

Aside from a $4,800 contribution from the candidate, the funds have come almost entirely from individual donors.

Bera is not the only one gunning for Lungren, who barely earned 50 percent of the vote in 2008, defeating underfunded Democratic challenger Bill Durston 50 percent to 44 percent. Bill Slaton, director of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, also posted impressive second-quarter fundraising numbers, though he has not released his third-quarter figures. Elk Grove City Councilman Gary Davis dropped out of the race last week.

Lungren reported $322,000 in cash on hand at the end of June.

A political novice, Bera is touting his medical background to back up his talk on the health care debate, and he is also emphasizing economic growth and improving education. His campaign has been content to sit on most of its cash for the time being, emphasizing inexpensive grass-roots outreach events.

But Bera told Roll Call he is gearing up for the next phase of the campaign, which will include hiring more staff and consultants. The campaign, he said, will have “a pretty well-recognized team coming together.—