Peters (D) near win; lead widens to 2,660 votes over Bilbray (R) in 52nd Cong. Dist. tilt
WED. MORNING UPDATE: Democrat Scott Peters is near an official, and hard-fought, victory over Congressman Brian Bilbray in the 52nd Congressional District race with a 2,660 vote lead that continues to expand as more votes are counted. Results must be finalized by Dec. 4, according to state law. Peters traveled to Washington D.C. this week where he took part in the orientation sessions for new members of Congress.
As of Tuesday night’s update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, with approximately 210,000 mail-in and provisional ballots from around the county yet to be counted -- about 40 percent of the vote -- Peters’ lead grew to 2,660 votes, further dimming Bilbray’s re-election hopes. Workers have been able to get through approximately 60,000 to 90,000 ballots per day, the Registrar’s office said. Mail and provisional ballots should be counted by the weekend. However, election results for San Diego County might not be certified until Dec. 4, the deadline by which the final results must be turned in to the California Secretary of State, sources said.
(For more visit I-Newsource and KPBS Investigations Desk .)
Port of San Diego Commissioner Scott Peters continues to pad his lead over Rep. Brian Bilbray, in their close congressional race.
Peters led by 1,899 votes out of about 235,000 cast for the general election, a net gain of more than 500 votes since Friday.
Bilbray has been a top target of Democrats for years, but survived previous attempts to oust him. However, redistricting moved him into some unfamiliar inland territory for this re-election bid.
"I didn’t see us quite this good. I think it’s going to really tighten up," Bilbray said after early results were announced showing him in the lead Tuesday night.
Then, when he spoke to supporters several hours later, he warned them it may take days to iron out the race.
After many San Diegans went to bed, Peters pulled ahead with a slight lead and held on until all precincts were in.
The fight for California's newly-drawn 52nd was targeted with some of the most campaign cash and coverage nationwide.
“This district was drawn to be the battleground for the Congressional seats the other Congressional seats are pretty darn safe,” Bilbray told NBC 7 San Diego. “I think this is a great process even though I happen to have to be in the battleground again.”
Bilbray is a Republican has represented the 50th District since 2006 as well as the former 49th District for three terms ending in 2001.
Bilbray voted Tuesday morning with his daughter, who was featured in one of his many campaign ads. Before voting, Bilbray went surfing. He told NBC 7 San Diego that if the warm reception he received from fellow surfers was any indicator of the night’s results, he felt confident in a win.
Peters is a Democrat who represented District 1 on the San Diego City Council for two terms, serving as Council president in his second.
In the region's other close race, Solana Beach Councilman Dave Roberts maintained a lead of 2,641 votes over Bilbray's chief of staff, Steve Danon, in their election for county supervisor. That's an increase of about 400 for Roberts since Friday.
The winner will replace the retiring Pam Slater-Price to become the first new supervisor in 17 years.
Peters only won 13 more precincts than Bilbray in the 420 precincts where votes were cast, including the vote-by-mail. If vote-by-mail locations are excluded, Peters only took four more precincts than Bilbray.
The 52nd congressional district stretches from Poway west to Del Mar and then down the coast to Coronado. A slice of its voters also live in the city of San Diego.
The district is known for its fairly even numbers of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, and when when it comes to political tastes, many don’t appear to mind crossing party lines.
While they’re still counting ballots in the congressional district because it’s too close to call, I-Newsource analyzed the unofficial returns in precincts that overlap the congressional district and the city. We found that nearly two-thirds of the precincts that favored Democrat Scott Peters favored — Republican Carl DeMaio for mayor.
A lot of those voters were in neighborhoods such as La Jolla, Bay Park, Bay Ho, North Clairemont and University City south of UCSD.
It probably stands to reason precincts that favored Republican Brian Bilbray within the city limits almost perfectly favored DeMaio as well.
Here’s the breakdown for the non-vote-by-mail precincts:
- Of the 189 precincts Scott Peters carried, DeMaio won 120.
- Of the 157 precincts Brian Bilbray won, DeMaio carried 156 — almost a perfect match.
- Filner carried only 69 of the precincts Peters won, and one of the precincts Bilbray won.
So why did Peters do so well in areas that wanted to elect DeMaio?
Political scientist Carl Luna says this is a textbook case of all politics being local. Peters served two terms on the San Diego City Council representing the first district, which included some of the neighborhoods that turned out for him in the election.
“When you have a choice between voting for somebody you know and kind of thinks like you, or somebody you don’t know that you’re not quite sure how they’re going to think, you go with the guy you know,” Luna said. “And Scott Peters was a known quantity to many of his voters. And Carl DeMaio, coming from the city government, was a known quantity.”
Luna also said Bilbray’s campaign might not have gotten as much mileage out of some attack ads as they’d hoped.
“The (National Republican Congressional Committee) ad about Scott Peters’ performance on the city council probably played well in areas outside of (Peters’) council district, but obviously did not sway voters within it.”
As for mayor-elect Bob Filner, a lifelong Democrat?
Luna said, “Bob Filner comes from South Bay, he has no real play in that part of the city.”
-- I-Newsource and KPBS Investigations Desk
Congressional candidate Scott Peters (D) speaks with reporters at the Westin Gaslamp, November 6, 2012.