Skip to comments.Timing may be on the side of Democrat Francine Busby (The 'Duke' Factor?)
Posted on 04/01/2006 1:49:27 PM PST by NormsRevenge
Some people have a knack for being in the right place at the right time Francine Busby might just make a career of it.
Two years ago, she was a no-chance Democrat who agreed to run in a heavily Republican congressional district against a wildly popular Republican incumbent and war hero because no one else would.
Few paid attention to the self-described soccer mom whose eight-year career in the travel industry ended in 1981, and whose political career amounted to winning a school board seat in a two-school district. National Democratic Party committees didn't give her money. Press coverage was minimal.
Not surprisingly, Busby lost.
But after a month, the tenacious Democrat revved up her campaign again. Right place. Then incumbent Randy Duke Cunningham's astounding corruption came to light he eventually was convicted for taking millions of dollars of bribes in exchange for federal defense contracts. Right time.
All of a sudden, Busby was a contender.
With a campaign already running, she became the anointed Democratic candidate in a district that Republicans had unquestionably considered their own but that now was being called ground zero of the congressional ethical meltdown.
Busby was invited to give the Democratic rebuttal to President Bush's weekly radio address, and used it to denounce the president's port deal with the United Arab Emirates as a threat to U.S. security.
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean showed up at a Busby fundraiser at Arianna Huffington's Brentwood home. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who is considering a run for president, held a campaign event for her in La Jolla.
Other signs that she has arrived: the National Republican Congressional Committee is bashing her and a Pennsylvania congressional candidate has been accused of stealing her strict ethics proposal.
Campaign contributions have poured in: $1.3 million and counting, including $100,000 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
She's done a really good job of energizing supporters in California and laying out her commitment to ethics reform and the priorities of California, said Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the Democratic committee.
But the main reason national Democrats are jumping aboard Busby's bandwagon may be the potential for victory, rather than the potential of the candidate.
Busby often answers in-depth questions by suggesting that a panel be convened, rather than coming up with solutions. At candidate forums, her words can tumble over each other as she tries to keep answers within the allotted time periods. And when making a point, her voice can sound more shrill than commanding.
Then, there are occasional flashes of charisma. At a Carlsbad business association forum Thursday night, Busby connected with the crowd of 200 and inspired enthusiastic cheers that Republican candidates at the podium with her couldn't match. The buzz around her is undeniable.
Private polls continue to show her leading the pack of 18 candidates in the April 11 special election for the 50th District.
In head-to-head competitions, one early poll had her beating some of the leading Republicans. This in a district where 44 percent of registered voters are Republican and 30 percent are Democrats.
Many political analysts, though, are saying this is a hard election to predict: not only will much depend on turnout, but self-funded candidates are swaying the electorate with their millions.
There's also the Duke factor.
People in that district will be looking for a change and a way to show with their votes they want to move in a new direction after Cunningham, said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
That could benefit political newcomers such as millionaire Republicans Richard Earnest, Bill Hauf, Eric Roach and Alan Uke. On the other hand, people tend to vote for candidates they know, which could give the edge to more established Republicans: state Sen. Bill Morrow, former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, or congressman-turned-lobbyist Brian Bilbray.
It will be a war between the desire for change and someone completely new and different, and the tendency to pick a stable political figure who won't embarrass the district, again, Sabato said.
Or as the leading Republicans continue their dogfight, Ms. Right Time, Right Place Busby could slip into Congress.
Two years ago, no one seriously thought she would win, said Allan Hoffenblum, co-editor of the Target Book, which analyzes California politics. This now is a whole new climate of uncertainty: Is there going to be a national referendum? Are you going to have Republicans voting Democratic?
A Democrat can't win that seat, but a Republican can lose it.
The election will list all 18 candidates on the ballot and voters can choose any one, regardless of party. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes, the top vote-getter of each party will go to a June runoff. The winner of the contest will complete the last six months of Cunningham's term.
It's not something Busby ever dreamed of growing up, wiping down sausage casings in her family's east Los Angeles Italian sausage shop. She earned a degree in humanities at University of California Irvine and became a group travel manager for Walt Disney Travel.
She stood out from Day One, said Dianne Miller, 62 of Garden Grove, who worked with Busby at Disney. She was very organized and a real go-getter.
Miller, who continues to exchange Christmas cards with Busby, remembers how Busby strove to make grad nights at Disneyland more than a one-night event, coordinating activities, hotels and meals for the graduating seniors.
Back then, Busby wasn't interested in politics and Miller was shocked in 2004 when Busby ran for Congress. But the shock wore off.
She was always a leader, Miller said. I'm a Republican and if I was in that district I would vote for her.
Busby quit working at Disney when her daughter was born in 1981. A son followed. She and her family moved to Cardiff in 1988 and she got involved in school activities.
When the school district needed someone to lead a campaign to modernize its two schools in 1998, Busby volunteered. The bond measure failed. But she didn't give up. She asked the opponents of the bond measure to help her write another. In 2000, a smaller, more-specific bond measure passed.
Busby was then appointed to an opening on the school board.
She was the obvious choice, the No. 1 choice of all parties, said Rodger Smith, who was the district's superintendent at the time. They recognized what kind of talent she would bring to the board.
In her first election two years later, there were three open school board seats and five candidates. Among the challengers was Bart Body, a psychologist concerned about bullying at one of the elementary schools. He had gone to the school, then the board, and gotten no action.
At the time, Body said school board meetings were dominated by the three ladies who go on and on and on. I don't think they have any real agenda.
One of those was Busby.
Busby finished third in the election and kept her seat. Body came in fifth. He said the board dealt with the bullying after the election. Body, a Democrat, added that he'll cast his vote for Busby on April 11.
Busby had switched from being a Republican to a Democrat after becoming disgusted by repeated GOP-backed investigations of President Clinton. She felt Cunningham didn't represent her interests. She also was embarrassed by his vulgar language and well-publicized altercations.
She hadn't been involved with any Democratic organizations, though, until she went to her first caucus meeting on Veterans Day 2003.
Ten days and two meetings later, she realized that no Democrat was challenging Cunningham in 2004. She decided voters needed a choice, and ran. During the campaign, she aggressively attacked Cunningham's support of the Iraq war and his role in the increasing budget deficit.
People wrote it off because they saw this as a Republican district, Busby said.
She raised $236,000 in campaign donations and developed a network of Democrats who had previously felt isolated. After losing to Cunningham 58 percent to 37 percent, she took only a month off before she began campaigning again for 2006.
We wanted to build on our base, she said. Cunningham's news came out, and the world went cattywampus.
When it became clear that Cunningham wasn't going to run for re-election, there were rumors that the Democratic Party would put up a more seasoned Democratic candidate. Many talked about recruiting former state Sen. Deirdre Dede Alpert. But Alpert demurred.
Busby knew she had the Democratic nomination in August when she was invited to Washington by Emily's List, which calls itself a political network for pro-choice Democratic women.
Last time they referred to me as the Democratic sacrificial lamb, Busby said. But, I've said from the beginning, I'm here to win.
Alpert a former school board member says in many ways Busby's campaign reminds her a lot of her own campaign for the 75th Assembly District in 1990. The district also was heavily Republican, but incumbent Republican Sunny Mojonnier had been embroiled in controversy over state workers doing her household chores.
No one expected Alpert to win, but she prevailed. She subsequently won re-election to the Assembly twice, and had two terms in the state Senate before she was forced out by term limits.
Under ordinary circumstances, I shouldn't have won, Alpert said. And Francine could pull this off, which in an ordinary year wouldn't be true. . . . but timing is everything.
DOB/Age: 3/3/1951/ 55
Professional/political career: Manager, Group Travel Services, Walt Disney Travel, 1973-81; manager of the Cardiff school bond campaigns 1998 and 2000; Cardiff School Board of Trustees, appointed 2000, elected 2002, president 2003; ran for Congress, 2004; taught class Women Changing the World at CSU San Marcos in fall 2005.
Education: B.A. in Humanities with Italian emphasis, UC Irvine.
Family: Husband, David, and two children.
Web site: busbyforcongress.org
She was a loser then, she should be a loser again but will she,, or will too many sticks in the fire singe the GOP in the 50th?
MoveOn.org Continues Push for "Progressive" Francine Busby ^
Yeah right. In their dreams. There's no way she can get 50% in that district.
I'm spending a few days in the 50th district. Street signs everywhere... Busby, Bilbray, Roach, Ernest, Uke in heavy quantities. Kaloogian is there, but not to the same degree. A smattering of the others can be found. Of more than 1000 signs, I have yet to see a single one for Morrow. What's up with that?
maybe he's using the power of the internet? or mind thought projection. moderates are into all kinds of things these days. lol ;-)
The impact of campaign signs is a hotly debated topic. They have an impact when they are on provate lawns, especially for Propositions. The value of signs posted willy-nilly up and down streets however is marginal at best.
If I had limited funds in a race, I'd spend it on mail.
Busby makes valley girls look smart.
I have seen her interviewed and she should be a secretary not a congresswoman.
In one interview she said she is hoping the gop candidates split their votes so she can get over 50 percent.
What difference does it make if they split their votes? If the gop votes get split up among the gop candidates or go to a few of the candidates it makes no difference in her perentage.
She has to be one of the most unqualified candidates ever running in a suburban well off district. A soccer mom nitwit running for congress.
How is this the right time for her? She is weak on illegals. If this district votes for her it will be used by the illegals loving msm just like kilgore's loss was cited by them.
A Democrat can't win that seat, but a Republican can lose it.
Very true. During the 1970's, that happened a lot.
Well, it's possible that strong conservatives won't turn out in high numbers. Their favored candidate, ex-Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, hurt his credibility when his website showed a neighborhood in Istanbul, Turkey and claimed it was in Baghdad.
She will lose worse than she can possibly imagine.
Stupid Democrats can get elected even in Republican districts under the right circumstances, because the dimwitted cliches they mouth are what the soccer moms (of both sexes) hear day in, day out from the media and "educated" people, and therefore believe.
This seat is in real danger, but I don't think the solution is to fall back on the moderate Bilbray. In this kind of situation, the Republican can win with any good candidate and lose with any good candidate. It is the campaign and the energy behind that campaign that will count. Kaloogian is the strongest conservative with the best conservative endorsements. Conservatives all over the country should send him money, now.
Kaloogian is endorsed by: Phyllis Schlafly, National Tax Limitation Committee, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Dr. James Dobson, Steve Forbes, etc.
They kow the real thing when they see it.
That website: www.kaloogianforcongress.com
Other endorsers of Kaloogian:
Gun Owners of America, San Diego Minutemen, Ron Prince (the proponent of Prop. 187), Morton Blackwell, Paul Weyrich, several current and former state legislators from the area.
Altogether an impressive array.
Ah, one of THOSE gems. She probably thought "treason" was a yummy-nummy chocolate nougat candy.
Converts from GOP to the Rats are the worst. They were dumber than dog pschitt to begin with, and actually became dumber than they were.
Oh, yes... Well, if this turd got elected to Congress, she'd join her fellow single-digit I.Q. compadre, Carolyn McCarthy of Lon Guyland, New Yawk, another RINO-turned-'Rat.
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
Was this story written by her PR firm?
Gave away a safe seat in Orange County to that ditz Sanchez.
She can if no one show up to vote. This is going to be a low turnout election.