Republican Bilbray Defeats Democrat Busby in California’s 50th
Schwarzenegger to Face Angelides
As I head to bed, it appears that Tuesday’s elections brought some moderately good news for the GOP. With over three-quarters of the vote counted (at post time), California’s Proposition 82, AKA the Reiner Initiative, is losing by a substantial margin. Governor Schwarzenegger will face Democrat Phil Angelides in the fall. In recent polls, Schwarzenegger has had held wider margins over Angelides than he did over the Democratic nominee’s more charismatic opponent Steve Westley. My man Ahnuld thus looks like a better bet for reelection.
In Alabama, Governor Bob Riley easily defeated a “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore, indicating that the GOP will likely hold onto to the Governor’s mansion in the Heart of Dixie. Even in the Deep South, Republicans prefer competent executives over grandstanding social conservatives.
In the most watched race of the night, the special election in California’s 50th congressional district to replace disgraced former Rep Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Republican Brian Bilbray has defeated Democrat Francine Busby. As I write this, with 90% of the votes counted, he leads her by a margin of 49.49 – 45.24%. Independent William Griffith backed by the Minutemen has about 5%. The Busby campaign’s radio spots and phone banks urging conservatives to vote for Griffith in order to siphon votes from Bilbray may have reduced Bilbray’s margin of victory, but they did not cost the Republican the election.
That Democrat Busby could run only one point ahead of John Kerry’s 2004 share of the vote in this district, despite the baggage Bilbray carried as a lobbyist, suggest that while Democrats have a chance of picking up enough seats this fall to take the House of Representatives, it’s not a done deal.
On the whole a pretty good night for Republicans. We hold onto a congressional seat in the Golden State where a budget-busting ballot proposition was easily defeated. And GOP Governors in California and Alabama are in good shape to hold their seats.
UPDATE: Over at Democracy Project, Bruce Kesler who lives in California’s 50th, writes, “The Democrats’ defeat is even more than it appears.” He thinks Busby’s 45% “is the max for a Democrat even in national races in this Republican leaning district” and notes that she lost although “statewide ballot issues and Governor primary” brought out more Democratic voters. Bruces offers a good rundown of the election, with an update noting how former House Speaker Newt Gingrich agrees with him. So, rather than paraphrase the rest of his insightful piece, I’ll just encourage you to read the whole thing!
UP-UPDATE (June 8 @ 5 AM): In a front-page articles in today’s Washington Post Dan Balz and Jonathan Weisman say the special in California’s 50th offers “scant evidence of the highly energized Democratic electorate that analysts say would be needed to dislodge the GOP from power on Capitol Hill in November.” And like men, these writers observe the significance of Busby’s overall percentage:
More worrisome to Democrats was the fact that Busby’s total hardly budged the 44 percent that Kerry won in the district in 2004. “If we can’t improve upon Kerry’s numbers in these congressional districts in this climate, we’ve got a big problem,” said one strategist, who asked not to be identified in order to give a candid assessment of the results.
This doesn’t mean, however. that things are hunky-dory for the GOP. Indepedent analyst Stuart Rotherberg pointed out that while Republicans “can’t be naive about what happened . . . , Democrats are still searching for evidence the wave is going to hit.” Read the whole thing!