Wednesday, June 07, 2006
The Morning Grind


Republican Brian Bilbray greets a supporter celebrating his victory in a closely watched House race.

Bilbray wins special election: What about the Democratic wave?

The Democratic wave never materialized in San Diego yesterday as former Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-California) overcame predictions of defeat to win the right to serve out the remaining seven months of jailed ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-California) term.

Bilbray's victory in Tuesday's special election likely gives him an advantage over Democratic nominee Francine Busby in November when the two opponents square off again in the general election for their own two-year term. But political analyst Stuart Rothenberg told the Grind this morning that Bilbray's win should not be viewed as a sign that Democrats have no chance of taking back control of Congress in November. He pointed out that Bilbray was held to 50 percent of the vote, five points less than what President Bush received in the 2004 election and eight points shy of Cunningham's election victory that same year.

"On the one hand there is clearly relief and a sense of hope for Republicans in November," Rothenberg said. "On the other hand, they have got to be concerned about the Republican drop off, and Democrats have got to figure they are still headed for a good year."

As for Busby's ability to pull only 45 percent of the vote after railing against Bilbray for being a lobbyist and seeking to gain from Cunningham's admission of accepting bribes, Rothenberg noted, "Clearly, Busby didn't grow her vote."

Republicans immediately sought to dampen any speculation about a forthcoming Democratic wave and suggested that House races are not subject to national moods.

"National Democrats did not discover their shockwave in San Diego," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (New York) declared in a statement released by his office this morning. "National Democrats must come to terms with the fact that momentum for the midterm elections will not materialize simply because they preordain it in the media or because they ask their special interest friends to buy it for them.

"The results in San Diego show that nothing has happened to alter the notion that House elections are about a choice between local personalities focused on local issues," Reynolds added.

But Democrats echoed Rothenberg's point that Bilbray performed poorly in a reliably Republican district.

"In an election cycle that is shaping up to be a change vs. the status quo contest, Francine Busby has shown that a strong change message can make even former members of Congress vulnerable in deeply red Republican districts," Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote in an e-mail to the Grind. "After spending more than $5 million, using national Republican leaders like George Bush, John McCain and Laura Bush, and running hugely negative ads, Brian Bilbray and the NRCC were able to pull out less than 50 percent of the vote in a very solidly Republican district."

Busby is expected to release a statement later this morning. For more local coverage from yesterday's primaries, scroll down to Political Hot Topics.

***


AND THE WINNER IS ...?: Who will be declared the winner once the Senate rejects an attempt to cut off debate this morning on a proposal to add an amendment to the Constitution banning same sex marriage? It depends on who you ask. The Marriage Protection Amendment is expected to receive the support of a majority of senators but still fall short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate, or essentially end a filibuster. MPA supporters argue that this is a long-term project and gaining votes for it -- which they will do today -- shows momentum towards their ultimate goal of putting in place a federal ban on same sex marriage. In the very least, MPA supporters said the Congress needs to vote on this issue every year so as to put lawmakers on record. But opponents will point out that supporters failed to even get enough votes to end debate and proceed to a straight up-or-down vote on it. One measure of whether holding a predetermined "losing vote" was effective won't be known until after the midterm elections. Republicans acknowledge the vote was held to help excite the conservative wing of the GOP base, who have threatened to stay home on Election Day because of their dissatisfaction with Congressional Republicans and President Bush.

***


SHOCKED: A new magazine full of graphic photographs is being distributed around Capitol Hill today as its publisher tries to generate buzz for the newest addition to the glossy media world. "Shock" is supposed to, well, shock readers by printing photographs depicting death, hostage situations, corpses, the horrors of war, people setting themselves on fire and other situations that have shock value. The inaugural cover depicts an American soldier carrying a bloody Iraqi child, which is why the magazine decided to hold a promotional event in the nation's capital.

"We felt because the cover story is about the war, it would provoke some conversation," said Anne Janas, a spokeswoman for the magazine, which is published by Hachette Filipacchi Media US. The company also publishes such titles as "Car and Driver," "Cycle World," "Woman's Day," and "Elle." About 1,500 magazines are being handed out today and the magazine can also be viewed by visiting its Web site, shocku.com.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 6/07/2006 12:39:00 PM ET | Permalink
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