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KPBS News Election 2012 Banner

Candidates Tout Experience During First 52nd Congressional Debate

Candidates Tout Experience During First 52nd Congressional Debate

Incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray faced three challengers in the first debate for the 52nd Congressional District.

The newly redrawn 52nd Congressional District offers candidates a challenge: its voters are neither predominantly registered Republicans nor Democrats.

Because the outcome is unpredictable, two Democrats have jumped into the fray to defeat incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray.

During a debate on Tuesday, former City Council President Scott Peters had to answer a question about his time at the city of San Diego when the pension scandal erupted.

“I don’t claim that I didn’t do anything wrong—I did,” he said. “I don’t claim that I finished the job, but I’m the only one on this panel who’s actually done meaningful government pension reform.”

Peters said his history as council president and chair of the Port District proves his ability to work in a non partisan way to get things done.

Lori Saldana, who served six years in the California Assembly, focused on her values of environmental protection and security for families and seniors.

“We are transitioning from a decade of war and combat to a new era, “ she said, “when we need to reinvest in the home front.”

Republican John Stahl, the new face on the scene, hasn’t served in public office. His background is in the Navy and in business. He has put $300,000 of his own money into his campaign. Stahl said he would consult business before passing any new regulations.

“Congress should get 15 percent pay cuts, “ he said. “You have to get back to citizen legislators, common sense solutions.”

Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray, whose 50th district borders morphed into the 52nd with redistricting, had a sympathetic audience: the debate was put on by The Conservative Order for Good Government. He reminded them of his staunch opposition to immigration reform containing amnesty.

“I’m being attacked from the right and the left,” he said after the debate. “And I always have been."

Bilbray, who first ran for Congress in 1995, has been in and out of the House for more than a decade. He lost his seat to Democrat Susan Davis after redistricting in 2000.

But in 2006 he won the 50th congressional seat after Randy Cunningham resigned, and he has represented it ever since.

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