‘We should be proud to be
Dr Ami Bera, a long-time Elk Grove physician and former dean of admissions, University of California, Davis, has the distinction of being the only Democratic challenger with more cash on hand than a sitting Republican member of the United States House of Representatives.
This has so impressed the Democratic Party establishment that last month, the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee officially designated Bera as a Top-Tier Red to Blue candidate. The DCCC chairman, US
Congressman Christopher Van Hollen, who attended an
Indian-American community fundraiser for Bera held at
the Maryland home of Democratic Party stalwart Dr
Suresh Gupta, exhorted all those present to support Bera to
the fullest since he was one of the party’s potential winners
in an election cycle when the Democratic Party is expected
to lose a significant number of seats.
While initially much of the monies into Bera’s campaign
coffers poured in from the Indian-American community —
as it still does — he is now also getting significant backing
from the Democratic establishment in the wake of much
excitement in party circles that he has a legitimate shot at
knocking off the Republican incumbent, Dan Lungren.
In the last quarters, besides small, online contributions
from a diverse group of contributors from Bera’s district
and from across the country and the continuing flow of
donations from Indian Americans — including many
of his fellow physicians — the AFL-CIO and the
American Federation of Teachers gave him $10,000,
while political action committees representing family physicians and radiologists to the pro-abortion
rights organization, NARAL, chipped in with
How does it feel to be officially designated a top-tier
Red to Blue candidate by the DCCC?
I am humbled. It’s extremely exciting. But what is
extremely gratifying and significant though is the
amount of support that we are getting here locally.
We’ve now gone over 1,800 volunteers working on
the campaign. They’ve made over 50,000 phone
calls. The grass-roots organization is just exceeding
all of our expectations. The level of excitement locally is just so great we’ve actually now outgrown our
first campaign office and we had to open a second
office. People want change. People recognize that I
am trying as hard as I can and I am working incredibly hard, and they realize that if we want to have real
representation ion this district, it’s going to be all of
us working together. And, they’re dissatisfied with
the political leadership and they’re dissatisfied with
the current representative in Dan Lungren.
Your recent fundraising report filed with the FEC
has shown that you’ve once again outpaced Lungren
for the fifth consecutive quarter and you have the distinction of being the only Democratic challenger with
more cash in your campaign kitty than a Republican
incumbent. How much of a boost has this been and
what does it say about your campaign and strategy,
particularly at the grass-roots level and also in terms
of your raising the money in small amounts online,
Barack Obama style?
It talks about the incredible support that we are
getting. The vast numbers of online donations, the
large number of local donations, and the number of
house parties we’ve been doing — these local events
where we will go into someone’s living room and
they’ll invite all their friends and neighbors — we are
also seeing people donate there in increasing
amounts. So, this is very much a grass-roots movement.
And you have outpaced Lungren consistently in
fundraising, notwithstanding the advantages he has
as an incumbent and the lobbyists behind him, I
guess this is a major shot-in-the arm for your campaign in terms of taking on an entrenched incumbent
and a political insider for decades.
This is indeed a major boost, and it means that we
are going to have the resources to get our message
out to make sure the electorate knows who I am and
where I am coming from and at the same time they
know Dan Lungren’s voting record, which is not in
line with this district.
Now that you are in the final stretch, are you going
to go toe-to-toe with Lungren if he throws a lot of neg-
ative stuff at you and take him on?
Absolutely. Our priorities could not be any different. This is a campaign of contrasts. This is a campaign of different priorities. My priorities are the
people who live here in this district. My priorities are
SHANNON S TAPLETON/REUTERS
People wait to enter a job fair in Melville, New York, June 29. Ami Bera has put generating jobs as a priority on his agenda