CA-48 Special Election on Tuesday
Voters in California's 48th District will select a replacement for former Rep. Chris Cox (R) on Tuesday in a race that has managed to attract some national media attention thanks to the role the immigration issue is playing.
State Sen. John Campbell (R) seems assured of victory, considering that he won 46 percent of the vote in a 17-way open primary on Oct. 4. Under California election law, the top votegetters from each of the five qualifying parties (Republican, Democrat, American Independent, Green and Libertarian) advanced to the runoff since no candidate managed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. The special election in this Orange County seat was triggered when Cox was appointed this year to head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
It is the American Independent Party candidate -- Jim Gilchrist -- who has captured the what little attention that has been from the national media. An ardent immigration opponent, Gilchrist is one of the founding members of the Minuteman Project, a group that patrols the U.S. border with Mexico.
Gilchrist drew a surprisingly strong 15 percent of the vote in the primary, putting him in third place behind Campbell and former state Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (R). Steve Young, the strongest finisher among Democrats, took just nine percent of the primary vote, a reflection of the GOP's strength in the district, which President Bush won with 58 percent of the vote last November. The other candidates are Bruce Cohen (Libertarian) and Bea Tiritilli (Green).
With immigration reform likely to be a hot topic of debate in Congress over the coming weeks and months, political operatives are watching with interest to see how strongly Gilchrist performs on Tuesday.
If Gilchrist is able to significantly improve his vote total from the primary, expect a series of stories in these and other publications about how immigration is becoming the sleeper issue of 2006 and 2008.
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