Sunday, July 16, 2006

CA-50 - Slipping Away

At the national level Democrats are deserting the Busby campaign in body, spirit and financial support. After a year of nearly perpetual campaigning, it looks like the party is conceding California's 50th District back to Republican rule.

Recently, two of Busby's sharpest political operatives, Brennan Bilberry and Brandon Hall have moved on to other opportunities. Through the spring, the Busby campaign could count on the direct support of Democratic Party heavy hitters, now Busby is reduced to getting face time at events headlining others. The money is moving on to other races.

In today's North County Times, William Finn Bennett, looks at Busby's diminished fortunes.
Despite her professed optimism, Busby faces a struggle to win the general election, in the view of two university professors who study congressional politics and who were interviewed last week.

"She is in a much weaker position" now, said Claremont-McKenna College professor of government Jack Pitney, who served as the deputy director of research for the Republican National Committee from 1989 to 1991.

Not only did she lose to Bilbray by nearly 5 percentage points, but she also faces, once again, a GOP-dominated electorate, said Gary Jacobson, a registered Democrat and a professor of political science at UC San Diego.

With 155,000 registered Republicans and about 104,000 registered Democrats in the region, the seat has long been a safe one for the GOP.

"Her best shot was in the first round of the special election," Jacobson said.
At the heart of the problem is one simple fact, the electorate doesn't care if their elected representatives are crooks or not. In fact, it is likely that most voters believe the all politicians are crooks, so it is a character defect that cancels itself out when they are voting.

Brian Bilbray, a lobbyist, who never lived in the 50th District won the election because his position on immigration reform was a better wedge issue than was Busby's pledge to clean up Washington. It was easier for voters to believe that Bilbray would do something about illegal immigration than to believe that Busby was going to be able to clean up Congress.
Busby's campaign theme of cleaning up ethics in Washington was a "failed message" that simply wasn't strong enough to move enough Republicans to vote against their party, Jacobson said.

Barring any revelations of something scandalous about Bilbray or a significant worsening of the public's perceptions of the Republican Party, things look bleak for Busby, Jacobson said.

"But she can't expect either of those things ---- there is nothing she can do but hope," he said.
Hope isn't much of a strategy.