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Posted at 1:52 p.m. on July 9, 2013
Updated: 2:53 p.m. | Conservative activists are urging former GOP Rep. Doug Ose to stay out of California’s 7th District race, threatening a “bloody primary” if he runs, according to a letter obtained by CQ Roll Call.
“While we respect your commitment to public service, your record in Congress would leave us no choice but to actively oppose your candidacy should you decide to run,” reads the letter signed by more than a dozen conservative and tea party activists from Northern California. (Read the letter below.)
Ose, who served in Congress from 1999 until 2005, is eyeing a comeback bid against freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif. The 7th District is a top target for Republicans, who lost the seat last cycle after Bera defeated then-Rep. Dan Lungren in one of the closest contests of 2012.
Local conservatives are not happy with prospect of Ose running again and would like to find another candidate.
“We actively oppose [Ose] and we will help to fund whoever runs against him,” said Ginny Rapini, a local tea party activist and the letter’s author.
Some activists say they would like to see Rep. Tom McClintock’s chief of staff, Igor Birman, run against Bera in the 7th District instead. Birman has yet to announce a bid, but Republican operatives say he is seriously considering running for the seat and will make a decision whether to run at the end of the summer.
In 2008, Ose lost his first comeback attempt for Congress in a primary to McClintock. The Club for Growth helped defeat Ose in the primary, running attack ads against Ose’s “liberal record” in Congress.
“Doug Ose is no friend to the pro-growth cause,” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said. “If he were to run for Congress, we’d look at seeking out a viable conservative alternative.”
Ose fired back at the authors of the letter, and defended his previous tenure in Congress.
“Most of those who signed the letter don’t live in the district, but the conservative voters that do are aware of my record of championing budget reform, job creation and supporting one of the largest tax cuts in history,” Ose said through a spokesman. “If Republicans are going to capture this seat, a divisive primary will be counterproductive.”
Thus far, Republican Elizabeth Emken has announced she is challenging Bera in the district. Emken has run two unsuccessful congressional campaigns in California: a House race in 2010 and a Senate bid against Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2012.
The 7th District is rated Lean Democrat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
See the full letter below: