California's 48th Congressional district is comprised of two of Orange County's richest beach communities, Newport and Laguna, and is a GOP stronghold. Republican Congressman Chris Cox represented the 48th in the House of Representatives for 16 years, before vacating the seat to become Chairman of the SEC this summer.
A special election to fill Cox's vacancy was held in October, but leading Republican John Campbell failed to get the majority he needed to win (he got 45.5%). As a result, there will be a runoff election this Tuesday, December 6th, in which Campbell will face the leading vote getters from four other parties. None of these four is expected to win; however, some believe that Democrat Steve Young has a chance of winning and Independent Jim Gilchrist has a slimmer chance.
Jim Gilchrist has made illegal immigration the issue of his campaign, which is not surprising since he is the founder of the Minuteman Project, an initiative in which U.S. citizens physically patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. Gilchrist is also conservative in his views on the environment ("I view global warming as an act of God, not as an act of man") and heartily supports President Bush on the war in Iraq. Some are speculating that Gilchrist could split the Republican vote, a la Ross Perot, causing Democrat Steve Young to win the seat. Such a result would be quite a feat in this very Republican of Congressional districts.
Post-Election Update: Republican John Campbell won the seat, taking 45% of the vote. Democrat Steve Young came in second with 28% and Independent Jim Gilchrist had a strong showing with 25% of the vote. Despite his loss, Gilchrist was very pleased and said, "This is just a start ... We've got a huge victory tonight because we've issued a wake-up call to America ... Our cause is not over, nor is my aspiration for my political career." Sounds like we'll be hearing more about this Minuteman in the future.