Sunday, April 30, 2006

Is Roach Running?

50th District Republican Eric Roach has returned from his visit with the lords of the right in Washington and now California conservatives eagerly await his decision. Will he run against Brian Bilbray in the 50th District Republican primary? Certainly, it's not just conservatives who are hanging on Roach's impending announcement. Roach's entry into the primary will force Brian Bilbray to fight a two front war - one against Democrat Francine Busby in the run-off election to fill out the remainder of convicted Republican felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham and the other to fend off Roach in the Republican primary. Both battles to be fought simultaneously and decided on June 6.

Conservative blogger, Jon Fleischman was part of Roach's entourage on his trip to DC. Roach, Fleischman and the geography challenged Howard Kaloogian visited the various gurus of the right, with Fleischman breathlessly reporting on each new encounter with the great oracles of conservatism - Grover Norquist, Paul Weyrich, and a host of other right wing members of the Republican congress of corruption. No mention of any visits to Brent Wilkes "hospitality" suite.

More to the point, this trip was designed to grease the skids for what in the end will be a Republican vs Republican cage match. If Roach's primary candidacy results in a Busby victory in the 50th, in June, it will be considered as collateral damage by the conservatives. Their target is a conservative victory in November. If Roach beats Bilbray in the primary, then whether Bilbray wins or loses the run-off with Busby, his only alternative in November is to run a write-in candidacy, which almost guarantees the seat to Busby. At that point, Bilbray will be under incredible pressure from the Republican Party to go back to his home in Virginia and resume his career as a lobbyist.

This is a high stakes game for Roach and the conservatives. If Roach wins the primary and then defeats Busby in November, it is validation for the movement conservatives. If Roach loses to Bilbray in the primary or if a three way race in November results in a Busby victory, the movement conservatives will be repudiated in a district they consider as safe as any in the country, a strong signal that the far right wing driven vision of the conservative movement may well be on the decline.

Upon their return, Fleischman strongly urged Roach to run. terms of sending someone to Washington long-term in a conservative district (70% of the votes for GOP candidates in the special went to very conservative candidates in a 14-way donnybrook), we need Roach to run. Besides, I honestly believe that (now that I know how not-conservative Bilbray was in DC), Republicans will have a hard-time motivating to get to the polls without Roach on the ballot. We'll see what Eric Roach decides -- but I hope that he decides to run - both for the good of the party, and for the good of the conservative cause, which is already imperiled by too many Bilbray-clones in the House.
He's right, the conservative cause needs Eric Roach to run. What the movement conservatives can't afford is for Roach to fail.