This race is a special election to fill the seat of imprisoned Duke Cunningham. The voting is next Tuesday, June 6, but absentees are already out and being returned.
Bilbray’s opponent is lefty Francine Busby, supported by the KosKids and other out-of-the-mainstream activists. Busby endorsed the Kennedy-McCain bill, even before it was amended.
The San Diego Union Tribune endorsed Bilbray on the strength of his approach to immigration, and contrasted it with Busby’s:
Bilbray, who served in the House from 1994 to 2000, long has been a national leader on the issue, both inside and outside of government. He takes a very strong stand against illegal entry into the United States, and since his departure from Congress he has worked on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a conservative group that wants to limit both legal and illegal immigration.
Accordingly, Bilbray opposes amnesty for undocumented aliens. He also advocates stiff penalties for employers who hire illegal workers and mandatory verification of worker eligibility through a national database that would eliminate forged documents. He also calls for the deployment of the military on the border to deter illegal crossers. In short, Bilbray is a hard-liner on illegal immigration, in keeping with the stringent enforcement measure passed by the House.
Busby, on the other hand, takes a much more liberal approach. She believes illegal immigrants should be given a path to citizenship, a formula that opponents decry as amnesty. Thus Busby endorses the Senate’s McCain-Kennedy bill, which would legalize many of the 12 million illegal immigrants now believed to be in the United States. Bilbray charges that legalizing the 12 million would trigger a new wave of their relatives totaling 30 million immigrants.
We certainly do not support all of Bilbray’s immigration proposals. But he embraces a much more sensible stance than Busby. On this vital issue alone, we believe Bilbray is the better candidate to serve the 50th Congressional District.
Yesterday John McCain cancelled an appearance with Bilbray, sending yet another McCain signal that it is always his way or the highway, a late hit on a crucial GOP candidate that won’t be forgotten when the senator next talks up his willingness to work for all parts of the big tent.
The race is said to be within the margin of error, and both parties are sending in troops and money, but the fact is that the district is heavily impacted by illegal immigration, and Busby’s position is correctly understood to be the soft line pushed by her party’s leadership so she lost momentum as that debate revealed the deep desire for border security. The anti-illegal immigration activists know that if Bilbray loses, the national press will have to draw the conclusion that the actual support for tough policy on borders is far less than perceived if in fact a GOP candidate committed to enforcement cannot win within a quick drive’s distance of that border.
I’ll invite both candidates on to today’s show. My guess is that Busby will duck-and-cover.