"Leadership is about going where others won't." –Francine Busby
By E.A. Barrera
September 9, 2009 (San Diego)--Democrat Francine Busby says the 50th Congressional District is ripe for change and she is the candidate best suited to unseat Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray next year.
"There is an accelerating shift from the Republican Party to Independents and Democrats. This district voted for Barack Obama in the last election and only gave Brian Bilbray 52 percent of the vote - the smallest margin of victory for any incumbent congressman in San Diego," said Busby.
Busby, who gained local fame during her first run for the seat in 2004 against then incumbent Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, said the district's Democratic shift was due in large measure to the work she organized during her first run for the seat.
"When I started, there was very little Democratic Party structure in the 50th District," said Busby. "This was a solidly Republican district, though there was an undercurrent of change you could feel in that 2004 election. People wanted something better than the status quo, but without a good organization and ability to mobilize voters, the Democrats were not able to capitalize on that desire for change."
Busby said she began what has turned into a five year effort to organize Democrats in the District. She noted the district now has over 500 trained Democratic Party precinct leaders stemming from the organization and enthusiasm generated by her past efforts and the campaign of Barack Obama.
The 50th Congressional District runs from Oceanside along the coast just south of Clairemont. It extends east past Valley Center and includes communities such as La Jolla, Encinitas, and Rancho Santa Fe.
In 2006 when Cunningham was arrested on bribery charges and eventually resigned from office, Busby ran for the remainder of his unexpired term, as well as the full term. She came in a strong first in the primary for the remainder of Cunningham's term that year, but faced then former congressman Brian Bilbray, who eventually defeated her in both the run-off and general elections.
She sat out the 2008 race, to her current disappointment, since President Obama carried the 50th district and Bilbray was more vulnerable than he appeared. Based on the results of the 2008 election, Busby insists Bilbray is vulnerable to a candidate with strong name recognition and support.
"The district is completely different than just three years ago. What was once a 14 percent advantage among Republicans in 2006 has been cut in half. I believe my name recognition in the 50th District can compete with Brian's and based on the direction the voters are moving, combined with Brian's increasingly conservative positions on the issues, there is little doubt in my mind that the Democrats can win this seat - if we want it bad enough," said Busby.
Busby said her platform for running revolves around what she feels are basic issues concerning the middle and working classes. Healthcare tops her list of priorities, including full support of President Obama's call for a public federal healthcare plan as one option within an exchange of choices.
"Tens of millions of us risk losing our health insurance when we change jobs. I experienced this myself when my husband lost his job and we lost our health coverage as a result," said Busby. "The problem is that while we may have a healthcare system in this country that is second to none, the means to afford it and the access Americans have to private insurance are not working anymore."
Busby's husband David, a computer engineer, changed jobs in November 2008 and as a result his health plan was lost. When they tried to get insurance independently, they were told that pre-existing conditions prohibited them from coverage.
"Like President Obama, I do not support a single payer system where the government would be the sole provider of health insurance. But what I do want for everyone is what members of Congress receive, which is a large choice of plans at affordable prices due to the large pool of employees the federal government has," said Busby. “This should include a public plan option as a way of increasing competition and lowering costs for consumers.”
Recently, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of the 52nd Congressional District acknowledged that upon election to Congress last year, he immediately switched from his private health plan to the one provided by the federal government for members of Congress and all federal employees. (Editor’s note: Hunter opposes healthcare reform bills that would provide a public option to the general public, however.)
Busby said that the model used by the Congressional federal plan should be available to all Americans, since she felt that in too many instances, single companies dictated medical insurance access and costs based on the needs of their investors and not the needs of the consumers.
"First off, we must acknowledge that healthcare is a right, and not a privilege of wealth," said Busby. "The right to health care is an intrinsic right of civilized society."
On other issues, Busby cited energy independence and the promotion of San Diego County as a science and research center, as the path she would focus on to bring new jobs to the region. She said not enough was done by Bilbray when it came to assisting businesses with the process of finding federal loans, grants and other financial assistance intended for new industry creation.
"We have a golden opportunity here in San Diego to be on the cutting edge of a new economy based on science and energy innovation," said Busby.
In the international arena, Busby said she was committed to supporting a complete withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq and said it was vital that the United States live up to its image as a champion of justice by prosecuting individuals who sanctioned and/or tortured prisoners at the American military base on Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Domestically, Busby said she favored the individual right of Americans to own firearms for personal protection.
"My husband owns a gun. People have a right to own a gun for both personal protection as well as for sporting uses. But we should not allow the stockpiling of weapons and we need to control the spread of automatic weapons," said Busby.
On education, Busby, who was a member of the Cardiff School Board, said that Federal mandates to the states must include the funding needed to fulfill the goals.
"The schools are not in a position to pay for the costs of the mandates from President (George W.) Bush's No Child Left Behind law," said Busby. "It is not right to force local public schools to comply with regulations the federal government is unwilling to pay for."
Busby, who was endorsed in June by the predominantly gay San Diego Democratic Club, said she supported the rights of homosexuals to marry and serve openly in military.
"I don't believe there should be any Constitutional Amendments at the state or federal level, which limit rights of the American people and deny people the right to serve their country. In this time, in the world we live in, with all the dangers we have to face, any American who wants to serve should be applauded, not told they can't because of their personal life," said Busby.
On the issue of San Diego's water future, Busby said that currently there was not enough water to sustain the region’s future growth. Measures such as conservation and water recycling would need to play a part in future plans.
"Things such as desalination of sea water and the reuse of water for non-potable purposes must be considered. Terms such as 'toilet-to-tap' are irresponsible and it is incumbent on leaders to inform the public in an honest way about important issues like future water needs," said Busby. "The truth is all water is reused. There is no such thing as 'new water' and it requires courage on the part of political leaders to tell the people the truth. Leadership is about going where others won't."
Busby is one of three Democrats who have thus far declared intentions to run for the 50th Congressional seat. Other candidates include consumer attorney Tracy Emblem and Solana Beach Councilman/former Mayor Dave Roberts.
For more information on Busby’s campaign, visit http://www.busbyforcongress.com/.
Watch for a profile on Roberts in an upcoming issue. He describes himself as a conservative Democratic, according to the North County Times (http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/sdcounty/article_cf0adc63-1f45-57af-a8...). For information on his candidacy, see http://www.daverobertsforcongress.com/.
For Congressman Brian Bilbray’s voting record and interest group ratings, see the League of Women Voter’s nonpartisan site, Project vote Smart: http://www.votesmart.org/bio.php?can_id=21916