Francine Busby

Francine Busby

Francine Pocino Busby (born March 3, 1951) was a 2006 Democratic candidate for Congress in California's 50th district, in North San Diego County. She lost to Republican Brian Bilbray in both the general election and the June 6 special election five months earlier to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Randy "Duke" Cunningham.


Busby was born in Los Angeles, California, to an Italian American family, and grew up in nearby Arcadia. She graduated with a BA in Humanities from UC Irvine. From 1974–1981 Busby was a travel manager and marketer for the Walt Disney Travel Company. She married her husband David Busby in 1979. They had two children, Maria and Michael, and Busby quit her job to raise them. In 1988 the family moved to Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California.


She ran two successful school bond campaigns in 1998 and 2000, became president of the Cardiff Education Foundation in 2000, was appointed to fill a vacancy to the Cardiff School Board, and, in 2002, was elected for a full school board term. She also serves in various community organizations.

Busby ran unsuccessfully against then-Rep. Duke Cunningham in the 2004 U.S. House election, receiving 37% of the vote to Cunningham's 58%. Cunningham later resigned on November 28, 2005, after pleading guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion.

2006 special congressional election

Initial vote

The initial vote in the special election was held on April 11, 2006. If a single candidate had won a simple majority, he or she would have served out the rest of Cunningham's term. Busby garnered 43.75 percent of the vote, 6.26 percentage points short of the majority necessary to avoid a runoff race. As no candidate won a simple majority, the top vote-getters in each party faced each other in a runoff on June 6, 2006.

Because the 50th is considered to be a heavily Republican district, it would have been considered major news if Busby won. [cite news
title=Washington Whispers: GOP Fears in a Bellwether Race | date=2006-06-05 | publisher=US News and World Report | url=
] "This is a biggie," said Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego Mesa College. "Everyone is going to be reading the tea leaves as a predictor of November." [cite news
first=Tony| last=Perry | title=Key Race Is Seen as a Test of GOP's Vulnerability | date=2006-05-30 | publisher=Los Angeles Times | url=,1,295798.story?coll=la-news-politics-california
] For that reason, the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $5 million on this race. [cite news
title=Campaign: Spin on Special Election Begins | date=2006-06-08 | publisher=The Hill |


On June 2, five days before the special congressional election, Busby was participating in a panel discussion with four other presenters who were addressing a largely Latino audience. She had been invited to explain her position in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The discussion was conducted in Spanish with some translation. During a discussion presented by a fellow panelist about ways to get involved in political action, a man from the back of the room addressed a question to Busby in Spanish. Busby said, "I didn't hear the entire question, but I understood that he wanted to help and said something about papers. I misspoke by saying he didn't need papers to vote. I meant that he didn't need papers to volunteer. This was not a discussion about my campaign." Her comments were recorded by a member of the Minutemen. "You can all help--you don't need papers for voting, you don't need to be a registered voter to help." She made this comment in response to a question by a man who asked in Spanish, "I want to help, but I don't have papers." [cite news
first=Dani| last=Dodge | title=Busby on defense, says she misspoke| date=2006-06-03 | publisher=San Diego Union-Tribune | url=
] The recording was circulated over the Internet and on radio. Republicans claim Busby was encouraging people to vote illegally, while Busby claimed she meant that a person does not need to be a registered voter to support her campaign. [ [ > News > Politics - Busby on defense, says she misspoke ] ]

Runoff results

In the June 6 runoff, Busby faced the leading vote getter from the two other parties participating: Republican Brian Bilbray and Libertarian Paul King, as well as independent candidate William Griffith. Busby lost to Bilbray 49.3% to 45.5%. Bilbray thereby won the right to finish Cunningham's term, through January 2007.

2006 general election

June 6, 2006, was also the date of the primary for the November general election. Busby and Bilbray each captured their party's nomination (as did Libertarian Paul King and Peace and Freedom candidate Miriam E. Clark).

Bilbray, with the advantage of incumbency, took an early lead. Both the "Cook Political Report" and "CQPolitics" rated the race as Republican Favored. But Busby gained in October (a late October poll by SurveyUSA showed Busby trailing by just 3 points) for a number of reasons: the general political climate seen as disadvantageous to the GOP, Busby's outraising Bilbray, and Bilbray's low profile campaign, on Oct. 23, "CQPolitics" changed their rating to "Leans Republican". [cite news | title=Busby Rallying in Calif. 50 Months After Special Election Loss | author=Rachel Kapochunas | url= | date=2006-10-23 |]

Despite these developments, Busby lost to Bilbray in the regular election, receiving 43% (77,695 votes) to Bilbray's 53%(95,459 votes).

External links

* [ Official campaign website]
* [ List of contributors to Busby's campaigns]
* [*2006 PAC donors, Indiv donors, Personal Financial Disclosures, Campaign Disbursements at PoliticalMoneyLine]


See also

*United States House elections, 2006

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