California: Ex-Mayor Enters Race to Take On Rep. Bilbray

Posted September 4, 2009 at 5:58pm

The field of Democrats seeking to take on Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) in his increasingly competitive district is growing.

Former Solana Beach Mayor Dave Roberts (D), a current councilman, announced late last week that he will be a candidate.

“I’m running for Congress because we need a representative who is focused on the needs of all people here in San Diego County and is ready to fight for them every single day,— Roberts said in a statement. “As a local elected official, and throughout my career in the Air Force and the private sector, I have worked with Republicans and Democrats. I’m not a partisan politician; I’m a proven consensus builder, committed to bringing people together to find common sense solutions. In Washington, that’s exactly what I’ll do.—

Roberts is the third Democrat to enter the 50th district race, joining college lecturer Francine Busby, a three-time Democratic nominee, and Tracy Emblem, an attorney.

As an officeholder, Roberts brings credibility to the table, but he could be hurt in a Democratic primary by the fact that he only recently switched his party registration from Independent to Democratic.

Bilbray has never won more than 53 percent of the vote since first being elected in the San Diego-area district in a 2006 special election, and President Barack Obama won the district by 4 points last year. But it is not clear yet just how vulnerable Bilbray — who previously held another San Diego-area seat — will be.

Bilbray has never been a particularly aggressive fundraiser, but he appears to have picked up the pace this year, raising $331,000 from April 1 to June 30 and banking $389,000 at the time. Busby had $136,000 in cash on hand as of June 30, and Emblem had just $15,000.

Roberts has served on the Solana Beach City Council, including a term as mayor, since 2004.