Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Brian Bilbray for CD-52?

Retired Congressman Doug Ose of Sacramento ran for the 8th Congressional District last year. He was a strong contender for the seat.

Unfortunately, a factious, bitter primary divided the Republican vote, and a number of partisans were so turned off, that they did not even vote for Ose. It was a devastating almost-win. Almost-wins always means that you lose.

If Ose had more support, more unity behind him, he would be the returning Congressman for the Sacramento region. He was a good enough candidate, and his name ID was strong enough in the region that he was able to come back into the general election fight.

With this dynamic in mind, California Republican Party operatives should start investing in former Congressmen who had represented the regions in the past.

In a previous post, I had talked up the possibility of retired Congressman Elton Gallegly of Simi Valley  challenging Julia Brownley in 2016. He probably has the strong enough name ID to compete in the district, since his last Congressional constituency included the greater parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

From this discussion we now turn to another winnable district in Southern California: CD-52.

52 - Peters (D)

Scott Peters remains one of the must vulnerable incumbents in the country, and even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is keeping an eye on him. The last Republican to challenge this incumbent, Carl DeMaio, was left-wing on too many issues. Pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control, pro-cap and trade, pro-amnesty. He was also openly gay.

What was it about DeMaio which had interested Republican Party leaders to endorse him in the first place? He had won a majority of the CD-52 vote during his run for mayor. That flawed metric misled Republican leaders, to put it bluntly.

Big Mistake. So big, that Republicans and conservatives actively endorsed the Democrat precisely because they recognized DeMaio's capacity to undermine the Republican Party platform. With Ose, partisans did not bother to vote at all. With DeMaio, Republicans were voting for the Democrat because he would do less long-term damage as a diminished part of a diminished Democratic House minority.

I hope that San Diego Republicans rethink their values and their viewpoints for the future. Instead of choosing a weak candidate with a prior record of gaining some votes in a non-partisan race, why not reach out to former Congressman and candidate:

Brian Bilbray

Brian Bilbray.

Bilbray was a successful California Republican candidate in 1994, sweeping out a Democrat in the 50th Congressional district, He would win two more elections before losing in 2000 to Susan Davis.

As a former Councilmember, mayor, San Diego Board Supervisor, Bilbray has name ID and ties to the community, as well.

He also won a special election replacing another Republican, "Duke" Cunningham, when he plead guilty to corruption charges.

So, Bilbray has had his share of wins and losses, upsetting victories and upsetting defeats.

Why not bring Brian Bilbray out of retirement to run for CD-52 in 2016?

Yes, the same incumbent who lost to Peters, who chose not to run in 2014. Is there a legacy for candidates who lost election to run again four plus years after losing, only to win again?

Mike Fitzpatrick, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Mike Fitzpatrick

Yes! Mike Fitzpatrick. Of course! He lost in 2006, then won his old seat back in 2010. It was the same Congressional seat, boundaries and all, so no one can claim that redistricting gave Fitzpatrick an edge.

I spoke with a San Diego GOP leader just after the November 2014 general election, and he informed me that Brian Bilbray was not interested in running. I believe that if someone makes the stronger case for a rematch, Bilbray might change his mind.

And even if he declines to run again in 2016, San Deigo Party leaders should invite him in as the king-maker to help find a strong candidate to challenge then defeat Scott Peters.

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