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A second Californian enters race to lead Democrats’ House campaign arm

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) announced his candidacy Monday to lead House Democrats’ campaign arm, setting up an internal leadership race between a pair of California Democrats.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Pacoima) announced his bid Friday.

In a letter to colleagues, Bera cast himself as “the best choice” to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, leaning on his experience as a member of outgoing DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney’s leadership team.

Though House Democrats overall exceeded expectations in last week’s midterm, Maloney (D-N.Y.) lost his own bid for reelection, leaving the leadership post open.

Bera worked with the DCCC in the recent election cycle, overseeing efforts to protect vulnerable incumbent Democrats in battleground districts.

If elected as DCCC chair, he said he would strive to be “a unifying bridge across districts and members” and would build “a talented team that reflects the diversity, strengths, and skills of our caucus and of America.”

Bera, a medical doctor, is a first-generation Indian American.

He said he learned firsthand how to win in tough, expensive races when he ousted a Republican incumbent in the 2012 cycle.

“I know what it takes to win in a competitive race and how to communicate with a wide constituency,” Bera said. “Many of the practices that my office and campaign implemented and honed are now part of the programs that many of you use.”

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) praised Bera’s track record. “Having watched Ami help lead our efforts to protect and expand our electoral map, I know he is the most experienced and battle-tested member to lead the DCCC at this pivotal moment,” he said.

Bera also touted his fundraising ability, noting that he has raised or donated nearly $500,000 for Democratic members and candidates this cycle, and helped the DCCC raise $1.4 million for itself and more than $3.8 million to use in frontline and Republican-held districts that Democrats sought to flip.

“House Democrats defied history last Tuesday. Not only did our frontliners win close races, but we flipped several red to blue seats and we broadened and strengthened our base through historic turnout from young voters,” Bera said.

Control of the House remains too close to call as election results for several races continue to be tallied. Republicans appear likely to win a narrow majority.

GOP candidates have won 212 seats in the next Congress compared to Democrats’ 204. One party must secure at least 218 seats to claim the majority.

Democrats expect to vote on their internal party leadership positions at the end of the month.

A key unanswered question is what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) plans to do. She said in 2018 that she would step down from House Democratic leadership at the end of 2022 to clear the way for the next generation.

But as that date approached, Pelosi has refused to talk about her plans, leading some to speculate she may be considering staying on.

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