Friday, March 24, 2006

Morrow's Desperation

Six months ago, California State Senator Bill Morrow had to see himself as the candidate to beat in the race to replace Randy "Duke" Cunningham in the 50th District. Morrow has represented parts of the district for years. He has conservative credentials. Yet, as the campaign has played out Morrow has become the odd man out among his right wing soul mates: Howard Kaloogian and Eric Roach. Not only is Morrow the 3rd Stooge on the Republican right, but carpetbagger lobbyist, Brian Bilbray, a Republican moderate (oxymoron), is the favorite to pull in the most votes in the crowded Republican field.

Morrow's campaign has hardly been stellar and Morrow himself is pretty boring. Now with his back to the wall, he has to do two things in the two weeks before the April 11 Special Election. First, he has to differentiate himself from Kaloogian and Roach. Second, he has to slow Bilbray down.

Morrow has the backing of the right wing California Republican Assembly (CRA) and it appears that the CRA is helping do the dirty work of attacking Bilbray leaving Morrow to find a way to stand out from the nut job backdrop where he blends into Kaloogian and Roach.

The CRA has put up a website that accuses Bilbray of two horrific sins. It calls him a liberal - no evidence for that. And, it calls him a lobbyist - which he is. It's a nice piece of work that manages to juxtapose a photo of Bilbray with Jack Abramoff and give the impression that the two are shaking hands while transferring a wad of cash. Good stuff.

More germane to the actual race, the CRA has sent out a mailer to the registered Republicans in the district that not only paints Bilbray as a close associate of Abramoff, but which also calls Bilbray to accounts for his support of Metabolife and his efforts to keep the FDA from restricting the use of ephedrine as a diet supplement. The CRA accuses Bilbray of causing 155 deaths through his efforts to protect Metabolife's main diet source of income. Bilbray's motivation, according to the CRA, was the $22,000 in campaign contributions he received from Metabolife executives and employees.

Morrow is under pressure to abandon the race and give either Kaloogian or Roach a shot at Bilbray. It looks like Morrow isn't going down without taking a few shots of his own. The problem for Republicans is that his shots are generating hits on their most viable candidate.

Hat tip to the always excellent San Diego Politics.