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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

CA-50: John McCain Shuns Brian Bilbray

Tuesday's special election to replace former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham in California's 50th congressional district gets more interesting every day. In a staunchly Republican district where a Democrat shouldn't have a chance, Francine Busby is scaring the crap out of the NRCC. The latest Busby Bilbray poll documents why the GOP is so scared.

The NRCC is panicking, raising their independent expenditure to $5,000,000 (one fifth of their cash on hand according to the latest reports):

With a last minute prime-time ad buy in the district at over $600/point (more than double the $240/point paid by the DCCC for its advance purchase), The NRCC will end up spending over $5 million on the California 50 special election next Tuesday. Republicans are panicking about what a Busbee win would mean for its candidates in November. Not only would Busby get us one seat closer to a Democratic House, but it would help shape the media narrative for the election.

The DCCC has responded with $1.8 million (which has gone further than the NRCC's cash because of the lower ad rates), and Busby has raised a crapload more money than Bilbray. which doesn't necessarily equalize the money wars, but it means that Busby has had enough to be competitive.

Brian Bilbray is caught in a serious bind. Conservatives hate him and many aren't going to turn out to vote. His campaign was hoping a late appearance by Senator John McCain would help with moderate Republicans and Independents, but McCain told him to take a hike:

U.S. Sen. John McCain on Tuesday canceled an appearance for a Republican congressional candidate who has attacked his opponent for supporting McCain's immigration bill.

McCain, R-Ariz., was scheduled to speak Wednesday at a breakfast fundraiser for Brian Bilbray, who is in a close runoff race with Democrat Francine Busby to fill the seat left vacant by disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Cunningham was sentenced in March to more than eight years in prison for accepting bribes. The winner of the June 6 special election will fill the remaining seven months left in Cunningham's term.

Bilbray, a former congressman who worked as a lobbyist for an anti-immigration group, has repeatedly attacked Busby for supporting the immigration bill passed last week in the Senate. McCain was a principal architect of the bill.

With both conservative and moderate Republicans agreeing that they don't like Brian Bilbray, the only thing he seems to be doing effectively is emptying the NRCC bank account. No matter what happens on Tuesday, the GOP is going to be in worse shape heading into the 2006 midterm elections. If Francine Busby comes close to beating Bilbray, it will show that far more races could be in play than the Washington pundits believe. If Busby beats Bilbray, it will send a shockwave through the 2006 narrative.

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