Bilbray Concedes: Peters Elected to Represent CA 52

Photo by Brittany Bailey

Democratic challenger unseats longtime Republican incumbent.

According to a report first published  by the UT-San Diego, Republican Representative Brian Bilbray has conceded his race for reelection to Democratic challenger Scott Peters.

As the polls closed on Election Day and as the vote counts began coming in from the Registrar of Voters, Bilbray maintained a lead throughout the night.  But the margin started shrinking as more precincts reported in.  As the clock ticked toward midnight on Nov. 7, the two candidates were separated by a mere 13 votes.  By 1:30am, Peters had gained a 321 vote advantage.

It was a lead he would never relinquish, and that would continue to grow as the Registrar turned its focus to mail-in and absentee ballots.  As of last night, that margin stood at 3,877 votes in favor of Scott Peters.

Peters was in Washington, D.C., attending a freshman orientation for new lawmakers when he received the call.

Peters joins Raul Ruiz, who unseated longtime Rep. Mary Bono-Mack in California’s 36th District, and Ami Bera, who was declared the winner by the Associated Press over veteran lawmaker Dan Lungren in the 7th District in Sacramento.  Lungren was a leader in the Republican House Caucus and is currently the Chairman of the House Administration Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the orientation of newly elected legislators.

Redistricting forced Bilbray from his previous CA 50th District, previously located primarily in coastal North San Diego County, where he enjoyed a heavy advantage in Republican registration over his former Democratic challnegers.  That advantage shrunk in the newly redrawn 52nd, where the Republican advantage over Democrats was merely two percentage points, with “Decline to State” voters making up roughly one-third of the voters there.

Update:  The Peters campaign released this statement:

“This afternoon, I received a very gracious phone call from Congressman Brian Bilbray. He wished me luck and offered his support. We agreed that while it was a tough, hard-fought campaign, now is the time to put it behind us. I thanked him for his service and look forward to his support as I transition into office.

“I’m in our nation’s capitol this week, working hard, and getting ready to hit the ground running on behalf of the people of the 52nd District. I am very grateful to the hundreds of people who walked, called, contributed and gave me their support; it was their energy and enthusiasm that put us over the top in this close race.

“There’s much to do.  I’m encouraged by the tremendous group of colleagues I’ve met here so far: freshman members of Congress, because like me, they all heard loud and clear during their campaigns that voters are tired of the partisanship, tired of politicians who put party over people.  I look forward to working with everyone to get things done for San Diego and the American people.”

Peters said in a brief phone interview that Mr. Bilbray was very gracious when he called to concede.  “He said something like ‘I’m making that phone call you’ve been working so hard to get.'”  He said that Bilbray suggested that he find a place close to the Capitol to live while in D.C., and offered to assist in any way he can to ease the transition.

Peters said he would “absolutely” carry on the work that Bilbray had touted in the closing days of the campaign on cancer research.  “Not only is it an important cause, but it’s critical to the San Diego economy.  We need to continue to promote basic scientific research, and hopefully San Diego will be the place that finds a cure for cancer.”

Asked about his experience at the orientation in Washington for newly elected members of Congress and the reception he had received despite not yet having been officially declared the winner, he said “I’m just here trying to learn this job so that we can hit the ground running,” adding  “I can’t wait to get back and visit Ocean Beach.  It’s cold out here!”



Andy Cohen

Andy spent 15 years working in the highest levels of the San Diego professional sports world, including both the Padres and the Chargers. He began his foray into writing while a volunteer for Francine Busby's 2010 Congressional campaign, eventually becoming a contributor to the now defunct SDNN. He has reported on local and national politics for both the OB Rag and the San Diego Free Press. When not reporting news and events, he offers political and policy commentary from a liberal perspective, occasionally turning back to his sports roots. While he does not hide his more liberal political bent, Andy always strives for fairness in the telling of a story.


  1. avatar says

    How sweet it is.
    We all have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: we don’t live in the Rockaways or Gaza or Tel Aviv; Filner, Peters and Obama are where they are supposed to be; we have been living for 40 years with CA coastal protection and a 30-foot height limit in the City of San Diego (thank you OB Historical Society for reminding us); and the same Governor Jerry Brown that brought us many huge changes-for-the-better is back in Sac.
    Plus the San Diego Free Press has been reincarnated and brought together a lot of scrappy liberals. Yes, liberals. Thank you, sky-god.

  2. avatarCarolyn says

    As if we didn’t have a voice to begin with (Boxer & Feinstein constantly overriding what our district wanted), we now have a Democrat “representative” and a Dem super majority in the state legislature. There is only so much people are willing to pay for nice weather. It is seriously time to leave this state, before they repeal Prop 13 in Sacramento and drive the state further into the ground. I understand there are people in Sacramento already hiring lobbyists to facilitate that. Yea, I’m sure you’re saying “Don’t let the door hit you…” but mark my words, I am not alone. Your tax base will be the first to leave, with our equity and our tax dollars. And the people who mock those in this district with your “how sweet it is” nonsense can pick up the tab.

    • avatar says

      There are some of us who are here for reasons other than the weather, and frankly wouldn’t mind less of those who are only here for sunny skies.

      But as the climate continues to warm there will be many more who will come here no matter the cost. Make room.

  3. avatarDave Chase says

    I am so happy that even a lack luster democrat such as Peters could unseat that hypocritical republican (redundant ?) hill lobbyist monster Bilbray.

    Made me ill when the Bilbray ads used his dying dying but photogenic daughter to preach for more federal dollars for cancer research that daddy would champion. We all know that every good republican including daddy, has for a long time been trying to kill federal funds being sent to all publicly funded R&D research for just this sort of thing. Really WTF ? Truly these people have no shame. They are greedy sociopaths.

  4. avatarfelicity says

    In November 1972, after working my heart out to elect George McGovern (and my first chance to vote at all), I went to bed early crying. And here we are 40 years later, a democrat re-elected as President, California safely on the blue side (my hero Jerry Brown back in the saddle) and even San Diego has gone blue!! Makes my heart warm and, I am certain, McGovern would be so pleased. Maybe now we can get those stinkin’ wars over and spend our money on things at home.