Former GOP Rep. Wins Calif. House Race

By ROBERT TANNER
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 7, 2006; 1:27 PM

-- A former Republican congressman narrowly beat his Democratic rival early Wednesday for the House seat once held by jailed Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a race closely watched as a possible early barometer of next fall's vote.

Republican Brian Bilbray emerged victorious after a costly and contentious special election race against Democrat Francine Busby, a local school board member.

With all precincts reporting, Bilbray had 60,319 votes, or 49 percent, while Busby had 55,578 votes, or 45 percent.

"I think that we're going back to Washington," Bilbray told cheering supporters.

The race _ one of dozens of contests Tuesday in eight states _ was viewed by Democrats as an opportunity to capture a solidly Republican district and build momentum on their hopes to capture control of the House.

Also in California, State Treasurer Phil Angelides narrowly beat Controller Steve Westly in the state's gubernatorial primary. He next faces GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who faced no credible opposition in his party's nomination.

Angelides had 980,065 votes, or 48 percent, to Westly's 888,948 votes, or 43 percent, with all precincts reporting.

"You've given me a chance to fight for you, for the California of our dreams, and I will not let you down," Angelides said while his supporters chanted, "Go, Phil, go!"

The race proved long on negative ads and short on excitement and attention, giving the Republican governor a timely lift as he publicly launches his re-election drive Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley easily beat back a GOP primary challenge from Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore, while Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman _ who campaigned while on trial on corruption charges _ lost his comeback fight against Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley. Also in Alabama, voters passed a ban on gay marriage by a 4-to-1 margin.

Riley said voters saw state government has changed while he has been in office. "People appreciated the difference in the level of corruption we had in the past and the corruption we don't have today," he said. His challenger, Moore, the former state chief justice who became a hero to the religious right in 2003 when he was ousted after refusing to remove the Commandments monument from the state judicial building, said: "God's will has been done."

Baxley is trying to become Alabama's second female governor. The state's first, Lurleen Wallace, was elected in 1966 as a stand-in for her husband.


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