Bilbray Wins! Plus, A Ken Mehlman Teleconference

The big election of the day yesterday was the Bilbray (R) vs. Busby (D) Brawl over who would replace Duke Cunningham in California’s 50th district. The polls had been tight all along and Cunningham’s corruption and small candidates draining support from Bilbray turned the election into a possible Democratic pick-up even though it’s a Republican leaning district.

However, in the end, Bilbray triumphed. Although the two independent candidates raked in a little more than 5% of the vote, Bilbray won by 49%-45%.

Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the RNC, had a teleconference about the race this morning. He said the Republican ground game made a big difference and turned a 31% margin for Busby in absentee ballots into a 20% margin, which helped guarantee Bilbray’s victory.

I asked Ken if the fact that Bilbray won was an indication that Republican voters and the public in general favored the House plan. Mehlman basically said no — they really favor the comprehensive plan the President wants and they don’t know that much about the specifics.

Let’s think about this. Bilbray’s top issue was his get tough stance on illegal immigration and he was very vocal about his opposition to the comprehensive illegal immigration reform that came through the Senate. In fact, everyone seems to be willing to acknowledge that is why he managed to win the Republican primary.

Then, Bilbray gets into a race with Busby who strongly supports the comprehensive illegal immigration that came out of the Senate, so much so that she was even inviting illegal aliens to vote and work on her campaign. Then, after a campaign which seemed to revolve around illegal immigration finally ends, Bilbray wins and Busby loses.

Yet, Mehlman looks at all and comes to the conclusion that even though people voted against the candidate who supported comprehensive immigration reform, that’s what people really want? Ken, Ken, Ken, you’re great, but people aren’t going to be fooled by that ridiculous spin.

(See more on the teleconference over at Hugh Hewitt’s blog)

On a related note, last night was a lot of fun because I got to watch the Kos kids deflate in real time as the numbers came in and they began to realize that Bilbray was going to win. Here’s some of what they said last night after they learned Busby was down 8 points after the first numbers came out:

cookiesandmilk: “Diebold Express. When you care enough to cheat the very best!”

mstarr77: “this is ridiculous…third world democracy in action”

bronxbayo: “it really is starting to sound as if they are still cooking this meal, and that is why we haven’t seen any official results. what’s with all this swagger from the Bilbray camp and *ss-kissing from the media? the fix in?”

Young and on the air: “I know people might get mad about this….but I wouldn’t put it past these f*cks to be flipping things as we speak. I know I know…it is the dirty little secret we don’t talk about here but just consider it for a minute. These f*ckers lied us into a 2 trillion dollar war, are covering up some problems with building 7, and have shown themselves to be very capable of stealing elections accross the state.”

Phoenix Democrat: “San Diegans who voted for Bilbray are morons. The 50% of San Diegans who voted for Bilbray don’t care if the United States gets flushed down the toilet.”

Elise: “First of all. A Republican has NOT yet WON a close election in this case!

Secondly, I am suspicious of all the extra time needed to count votes in each of these closely contested races…where somehow, the Repug squeaks out the win by JUST enough. But there are NEVER any delays in any of the other districts…GEE, I wonder the f*ck why?!


paida: “I AM SICK OF LOSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

mikey1ca: “i feel the same way. It is so depressing to get our hopes up every cycle, only to have these idiots keep voting for the crooks.”

Ah….good times!

Update #1: Robert Bluey over at Human Event’s Right Angle blog now has a post up about the teleconference with Ken Mehlman and he apparently has access to a transcript.

Here’s his write-up of my question and Ken Mehlman’s answer:

Hawkins kicked off the Q&A portion with an excellent question about Bilbray’s decision to strongly support the House bill on immigration reform (whereas Francine Busby favored the Senate’s amnesty approach). And while it seems obvious to me (and Newt Gingrich) that this is why Bilbray triumphed, Mehlman wasn’t as definitive.

The public wants illegal immigration dealt with as a serious issue, and I think what ultimately crystallized that choice was that his opponent came out and she encouraged illegal immigrants to illegally vote. If you look at polling across the board, it shows that most Republicans, most conservatives, most Americans believe there ought to be a comprehensive approach.

That doesn’t mean the American people believe in every comma and period of the Senate bill, but they do believe that you need both strong border security and a way to meet our economic needs, and you need a way to have worker verification, and you need a way to deal with the illegals who are here now.

I think the polling show that with this election there was a clear choice between one candidate who said we need stronger border security and another candidate who said illegals, welcome to the voting process. And that’s a very important distinction.

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