Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
California 3rd - Rep. Dan Lungren (R) is seeking a fourth term
Primary: June 8, 2010
Location: Sacramento suburbs
Days until Election Day: 76
If there's something everyone can agree on in California's third district, it's that Washington is the problem.
Incumbent Republican Dan Lungren's campaign website opens with a picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a call for donations to help Lungren "stop the madness." His challenger Amerish "Ami" Bera says Congress needs new voices like his to "change the way things are done in Washington."
California's third district, spanning the Sacramento suburbs, has only recently come up for play. George W. Bush carried the district by 19 points in 2004. But four years later, Barack Obama won here by a margin of roughly one-half of one percent. That got Democrats' attention.
Enter the challenger Bera, a physician who last served as chief medical officer of Sacramento County. His parents emigrated from India before Bera was born. He has made health care a core of his campaign, calling the reform passed by the Congress this year "an important first step" and saying more work must be done.
Lungren, the incumbent, has a long history of public service in California. He served as a congressman from Long Beach for ten years before being elected state attorney general. He won his current congressional seat in 2004.
Lungren voted against the health care reform bill in Congress and calls "government health care rationing" a "catastrophe" for Americans.
Although the 3rd district stretches from the Nevada border to the vineyards of Solano County, most of the political action in the district is centered on the suburbs of Sacramento. Roughly eight in ten voters in the region live in Sacramento County, and while the district boundaries skirt the city itself, there are plenty of government workers in the suburbs to create a base of Democratic voters. But California suburbs also tend to have many pockets of GOP strength, particularly in inland counties, and the rural parts of the district are very Republican. Sacramento County has been hit hard by the Great Recession, with home prices and government services both falling.
Democrats have coalesced around Bera, who pulled in more contributions last quarter than Lungren. Bera had about $1.15 million on hand on June 30, while Lungren had about $802,000.
However, Republicans point out Lundgren was victorious even when Obama topped the ballot in 2008. So without a popular Democrat turning out the vote, they're confident Lungren will pull off a victory this year.