The big news in the eight states that held primary elections is that Republicans narrowly held on to a safe House seat in San Diego. Brian Bilbray, a former Congressman who ran on the slogan "Proven Tough on Illegal Immigration," defeated Democrat Francine Busby. The best analysis comes from the American Spectator's John Tabin (a Reason contributor) and National Review's Greg Pollowitz. The basic facts: Democrats counted on voter turnout and anger at Washington corruption (this seat was vacated by dirtier-than-Bill-Jefferson Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham) to push them over the top, and that didn't materialize. Republicans spent $5 million to save Bilbray—a good investment to generate a couple weeks of "Are the Republicans bouncing back?" stories, but not the kind of cash they can throw around when 435 House (and 33 Senate) races are on the ballot in five months in places less GOP-friendly than San Diego. In 2005, for example, San Diego elected a new Republican mayor to replace another Republican mayor who had resigned in a flurry of scandal and civic unrest. That's more loyalty than, say, Rick Santorum can count on.
Busby was probably done in by an 11th hour gaffe—before the weekend, she told a Spanish-speaking man that he could help her campaign because "You don't need papers for voting, you don't need to be a registered voter to help." Talk radio, cable news, and Republican advertisers beat the hell out of Busby for 96 hours with that quote, caught on audio tape. It's probably too much to ask for the GOP that every Democrat make a last-minute disastrous remark on the campaign's key issue.
But that wasn't the only race yesterday. Rob Reiner's California preschool initiative went down to defeat, no thanks to the prayers of Satanists. Other contests that aren't getting as much attention:
– "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore got beat like a boy who didn't honor thy mother and father in the Republican primary for governor of Alabama. Moore had led in early polls with Gov. Bob Riley, but the governor's response to Hurricane Katrina and ridiculous grandstanding on the Natalee Holloway case won over his base in a big way.
– George Wallace, Jr., the son of the infamous Alabama Gov., trailed badly in the race to become the state's lt. govenor. If he ever wants to stand in any schoolhouse doors he needs to win a runoff with Luther Strange. (No relation.)
– Larry Darby, the former "Libertarian" who ran on a platform of "re-awakening racial awareness," lost the Alabama Democratic primary for attorney general. But he scored 160,000 votes, or 44 percent of the total. All this and George Wallace Jr. still lost!