A Shot Across the GOP Bow

In a race that unexpectedly became one of the most competitive in congressional history, Francine Busby sent a shot across the GOP bow and proved that even in the most reliably Republican district, the message of change and a new direction for the country is resonating with voters.

As an editorial in The Washington Post wrote this morning...

"If Republican were breathing easier this morning, they had few illusions about what lies ahead. The extraordinary effort to hold onto a seat that has long been safely in GOP hands underscored the challenges as they try to retain their congressional majorities in November at a time when President Bush's approval ratings remain weak, the party's coalition is fracturing and voters are repulsed by the taint of corruption in Washington."

Francine was a tough candidate who fought hard. She couldn't have come as far as she did without the support of our members like you in districts nationwide. She will have another opportunity to win this seat in November, when Republicans in her district will once again be divided. But, the truth revealed in this election is that voters are demanding change and new priorities. This November, in districts around the country -- many more moderate than Busby's -- we will be fighting for new priorities in Congress. The NRCC can't spend almost five million dollars in every district to keep their majority.

CA-50 is a district that President Bush carried by 11 points in both 2000 and 2004 - this race should not have been close. By all measures this was a safe Republican Congressional seat. Yet, Francine Busby forced the Republican Party to spend close to five million defending it - the most federal money the NRCC has spent on a House race, ever.

As Carl Luna [1], a political science professor at San Diego Mesa College put it...

"This race, of course, should have attracted almost no attention from anyone outside of the candidates' immediate families, let alone national news coverage and millions of dollars in national campaign money. The Republican candidate, be it Brian Bilbray or Zippy the Wonder Pup, should have been assured this seat hands down. And, as the Republican nominee, Bilbray should have been hanging ten right now to an assured, double digit victory.

"Key words: should have."

After spending more than five million dollars - more than 20% of their reserves for November -- and using national Republican leaders like George W. Bush, John McCain and Laura Bush, and running viciously negative ads, Brian Bilbray and the NRCC were able to pull out less than 50 percent of the vote in a solidly Republican district. We've got them on the ropes, but we also know that they are not going down without a fight. The fact that the DCCC and Democrats across the country are already competitive or ahead of Republicans in campaign funds and polling numbers is unprecedented, but we need to keep up the momentum until November.

Francine Busby's hard charging campaign demonstrated that we can and will bring this message of change and new priorities to Americans across the country. Not just in Democratic or moderate districts, but deep into the heart of Republican territory. During these last five months, Democrats in Republican districts from Pennsylvania to Washington state will look to Francine's campaign as an example.

More Primaries, More Change:

And indeed, California's 50th was not the only Congressional district with a primary election:

* In Iowa, Democrat Bruce Braley came out strong and ready to fight against an avid Republican supporter of Social Security privatization Mike Whalen for a pivotal open seat in the first district.

* In New Mexico, Democratic candidate Patricia Madrid, currently New Mexico's Attorney General, emerged from her primary to take on Republican rubber stamp Heather Wilson.

* In New Jersey, Linda Stender came out of the primary in New Jersey ready to take on an increasingly vulnerable Republican Mike Ferguson, known by House colleagues for his fierce opposition to choice and stem cell research. Another of the most extreme Republicans in Congress, Scott Garrett, will face a stiff challenge from Democrat Paul Aronsohn, and former State Assembly Speaker Albio Sires showed solid support in his effort to keep Bob Menendez' seat in Democratic hands now that's he left for the Senate.

* In Montana, State Legislator Monica Lindeen emerged from today's primary with an overwhelming show of support from Montana voters who are increasingly sick and tired of Republican Denny Rehberg's brand of special interest leadership.

Thank you for all your support and all that you do. The field is taking shape, and our team is looking better than ever. Five months to go, buckle your seatbelt.


Sincerely,

Rahm Emanuel
Chairman, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

[1] "Wipe Out," San Diego Union-Tribune, May 31, 2006

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