Bilbray’s Win in California’s 50th District

It is interesting to witness the spin from both sides on Brian Bilbray’s narrow defeat over Francine Busby. Steve Benes who is doing an excellent job over at Kevin Drum’s blog writes:

It’s very much reminiscent of Jean Schmidt narrowly defeating Paul Hackett is Ohio’s 2nd last year – a race that the GOP was supposed to win easily went down to the wire, and ended up costing Republicans a fortune. Put it this way: if the GOP has to work this hard just to keep ordinarily – safe Republican districts in November, they better raise more money than they’ve ever raised before.

John Pitney writing for the National Review claims:

In a couple of ways, the outcome was quite remarkable. As of the last FEC report, Busby had raised more money than Bilbray.

Well she did raise over $2 million whereas Bilbray raised only $1 million. Of course, other Republicans running for the Dukester’s former seat also raised a fair chunk of change.

Steve Benes said something about $5 million coming from the RNCC, which was not included in Pitney’s spin – but Jonathan Kaplan suggests a lower figure and notes the DNCC spent a little down south from where I live:

On May 22, the National Republican Congressional Committee reported having spent $1.1 million on direct mail, phone calls, polling and issue ads to help former Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). On May 11, the committee reported spending more than $641,000. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $790,000 between May 14 and 20 on television advertising in California’s 50th Congressional District on behalf of Bilbray’s Democratic opponent, Francine Busby.

I listened to Bilbray say why he thought he won and as the AP and CNN put it:

Bilbray made immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, proposing a fence “from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico” and restrictions to keep illegal immigrants from collecting Social Security and other benefits.

While Bilbray opposes President Bush’s immigration reform – I suspect Karl Rove is happy that hate and fear still represents a winning strategy for certain Republicans.

Note also that AP and CNN put the figures from the national treasures of each party a little higher than what Kaplan suggested.