Photos by Chris Rothwell - SEOwell.com
So last night I made my way up to Encinitas in the heart of CA-50 for the official launch of Nick Leibham's congressional campaign. The event managed to fill the Bullpen Bar and Grill, and my best guess after huddling with several guests was that the number was at least 300. One way or another, the group was bumping up against max capacity. Among the assembled throng was CA-52 candidate Mike Lumpkin, San Diego City Council candidate Stephen Whitburn, San Diego Drinking Liberally chief Jesse Rubin, and Calitics' CarlsbadDem. And of course, Francine Busby to introduce Nick Leibham.
Against the backdrop of New Hampshire primary results running across screens throughout the bar, Leibham talked about the failures both big and small of Brian Bilbray's political career. He pledged to actually live in the district, not in Imperial Beach, or in Virginia, or with his mother. More seriously and most importantly though, he pledged to really represent the district. Something that, as far as I and everyone else in the building are concerned, has been sorely lacking for a number of years.
He whipped up the crowd, hitting on many of the core issues that Democrats will rally around this year: He blasted Bilbray for supporting Bush's plan in Iraq, for supporting Bush's destruction of the Constitution, for refusing to fund children's health care through SCHIP. He talked about the fundamental failure of the Republican party and the myriad ways in which Brian Bilbray has been complicit in that failure. Most of all, he helped explain how those Republican failures hurt the 50th district. And he led the crowd in chants of "Wrong Way Bilbray!" as he listed off just some of the seemingly countless ways Rep. Bilbray has failed to serve this district.
For me, the most exciting part of the evening was the size, diversity, and depth of the crowd. I spoke with activists from all over the district and throughout San Diego. We talked about Blackwater's invasion of Potrero and other San Diego issues, but most of all, we talked about how desperate people are to get a government that better reflects their values. And for so many of them, it starts in the 50th. After watching the record Democratic turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire, the energy to seize on this election seems to be everywhere.
It is, of course, a tough district. Francine Busby ran a spirited campaign last year with support from the DCCC and still ultimately came up short. But as the Republican party has continued to fight against good policy at every turn and Brian Bilbray has revealed himself to be an extremist even within his own party, dynamics change. These crowds and this energy really paints an encouraging picture as one more front is opened in the battle to reclaim this country. Nick Leibham is the rallying point in the 50th, and it sure looks like he's positioned to be the beneficiary of an incredible amount of support. We're in for a real race.
Crossposted from Calitics