Locked in a tight battle to save his congressional seat in a newly redrawn district, San Diego Republican congressman Brian Bilbray was featured in a fundraising invitation last month that reminisced about the good old days of the Clinton era. He was joined by 14 GOP politicians on the invite to a Washington fundraiser for fellow members Charlie Bass and Steve Chabot. Staged at the Associated General Contractors of America Townhouse on D Street SE, the event’s invitation bade political action committees to pony up $2500 to “Join the Class of 1994,” including Bilbray, senators Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss, and former senator John Ensign. All are said to be products of the 1994 Republican landslide, in which Bilbray beat Democratic incumbent and ex–Jerry Brown staffer Lynn Schenk in a nominally Democratic district to pick up a seat in Congress.
That was a more genteel era, when candidates of each party competed in their own primary races without noisy distractions. This year, Bilbray is facing off against two Republican challengers who both say they are more conservative than he and two well-financed Democrats in a district with only a marginal GOP registration edge. The invitation to the March 28 D.C. fundraiser was posted online by the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time website.