Will Duke Cost GOP the House?

U.S. News and World Report says that some Republicans are fretting that Democrat Francine Busby may win the special Congressional election to replace now-imprisoned Randy “Duke” Cunningham — and that may be a sign that House control will be going to the Democrats in November:

Staffers from the National Republican Congressional Committee are quietly telling GOP House members to prepare for a possible loss in the June 6 special election to fill the seat of Randy “Duke” Cunningham, now in prison for taking bribes. The Southern California district is heavily Republican, but some GOP insiders believe that Democrat Francine Busby will defeat former GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray and go on to win a full term in November. More alarming some worry that a Bilbray defeat could signal the GOP’s loss of control of the House. The NRCC has already pumped $3.1 million into the race. “It is becoming more and more likely,” says one GOP strategist, “that Bilbray will squeak out a victory.” But another longtime Republican operative isn’t so sure. “This is a district we should never lose,” he says. “It’s the stink of Cunningham, and the Bush problem.”

One thing is for sure: If Busby wins, it will mean that despite what polls and pundits say, ethics are a serious concern for voters — and incumbents sidestep the issue at their peril.