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Sen. Rand Paul endorses Igor Birman in three-way GOP House challenge

PoliticsElectionsRepublican PartyRand PaulAmi BeraElizabeth EmkenTom McClintock

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday endorsed attorney Igor Birman, one of three Republican challengers hoping to take on the freshman Democratic congressman representing a Sacramento-area district.

Paul's endorsement should help Birman's efforts to portray himself as the most conservative of the GOP challengers to Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove). And it brings  more national attention to the race because Paul is being discussed as a likely presidential contender in 2016.

Several Birman supporters, wearing T-shirts touting their candidate, attended a Paul speech last week in Berkeley.

Birman, a former top aide to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Granite Bay), already has sewn up endorsements from Paul's father, former presidential hopeful Ron Paul, and from such organizations as the National Assn. for Gun Rights, the Madison Project and FreedomWorks.

Other Republicans in the race for California's 7th Congressional District seat are former Rep. Doug Ose and autism activist Elizabeth Emken, who ran against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) in 2012.

That was the year that Bera defeated GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in a district where registration is nearly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, with almost one-fifth of voters unaffiliated with any party.

The GOP has set its sights on recapturing the seat this year; Democrats say they are determined to defend it.

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jean.merl@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeanmerl

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