The Corner

Fund: Guest-Worker Program Doomed in House

John Fund (sub required) on the Campbell-Gilchrist race and the politics of immigration in the House:

Mr. Gilchrist was far from an ideal candidate. He had declared personal bankruptcy, admitted that he wanted to raise taxes and told a reporter he had voted for the Green Party candidate in the last election for governor. But he was able to raise $600,000 from direct mail touting his views on immigration and practically turned Los Angeles talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou into his precinct captains. The two radio hosts forced the front-runner, GOP State Senator John Campbell, to apologize for voting in favor of reduced tuition at state universities for the children of illegals. Mr. Campbell even declared his support for creation of a state border police and said he would oppose President Bush’s guest worker program.

Even with all that, Mr. Campbell’s 45% win represented a lower percentage of the vote than the 46% he had won in a “jungle” primary in a field of 19 candidates last October (the number was whittled down to five for yesterday’s runoff). Mr. Gilchrest’s percentage increased to 25% from the 15% he got in the October primary. The Democratic candidate won 27% in yesterday’s runoff.

Columnist Robert Novak reported last week that GOP House leaders had determined “a strong showing by Gilchrist — anything above 20 to 25 percent — [would be] bad news for the future of Bush’s immigration plan.” One House member told me that with the perception that Mr. Gilchrist outperformed expectations, “members will be spooked at the thought of primary challengers or third-party candidates draining votes from them with an immigrant-bashing platform.” Despite the fact that enforcement and a guest-worker program should go hand in hand, Mr. Bush’s proposal is probably doomed in the House for this session of Congress.

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