Roach and other leading Republicans in the open primary took a hard line on illegal immigration. But Bilbray in particular has been well-known in San Diego for years as a staunch opponent of unlawful border crossings by Mexican nationals, and he believes the millions of Latinos who marched in cities across the country in recent weeks to protest the House bill and certain proposals being bandied about in the Senate pushed more voters into his camp on Election Day.
Capitol Hill Republicans are essentially united behind Bilbray, with Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) leading his California 50 Victory Fund fundraising committee in Washington, D.C., and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier and Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, all California Republicans, playing key roles in his battle with Busby. Bilbray had barely half a million dollars to spend in the open primary, dispensing of all but $10,000 of it, but Gilliard said money will not be an issue in the runoff.
At this point, Bilbray’s biggest obstacle could be some of his fellow Republicans in the 50th district.
Although Roach conceded the open primary race to Bilbray on Thursday, his campaign spokesman Stan Devereux said that the self-funding candidate hasn’t ruled out running against Bilbray in the regular June 6 primary.
“He conceded the April 11 outcome, and now he is planning to take some time to get some R and R this weekend, and over the course of the coming week or two look at what the future holds for him,” Devereux said. “He does not want to be rushed into making any quick decisions right now.”
Because of the timing of the open primary, any Republican who wanted to be eligible to represent the GOP on the November general-election ballot had to file to run in the regular statewide June 6 primary. So, the Republicans who lost last week have the option of continuing their campaign and running for that nomination.
Theoretically, Roach or the third-place Republican finisher, former state Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, could choose to run against Bilbray for the Republican nomination to the November general election — a move that could drag down his numbers and cost him the June election against Busby, or turn him into a six-month Congressman even if he wins the runoff.
Neither Issa, nor Kaloogian strategist Sal Russo, see such a scenario as likely,
“I think there’s a very clear understanding that unless somebody wants to come in and give Busby a win, and that’s not going to be a Republican-supported initiative, it’s going to be down to whoever the nominee is” in the runoff, Issa said.