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Yesterday, Francine Busby challenged Rep. Brian Bilbray to commit to at least six public debates before the Nov. 7 election.

I called Jennifer Jacobs, Bilbray’s campaign spokeswoman, who I couldn’t reach yesterday, to see if the Congressman plans to accept Busby’s challenge.

“Ms. Busby is sitting here with nothing to do and he is back in D.C. every week,” said Jacobs. “We have to balance a campaign schedule with a congressional schedule and priority is going to be talking with voters.”

So does that mean that Bilbray is planning to communicate with voters via a series of public debates with Busby?

“It means that we are in the process of putting the campaign together and representing the district and right now that’s our priority,” Jacobs said. “We’re in the middle of trying to figure that out right now.”

Last week, Busby and Bilbray faced off on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

Although no relevant public polling has been released in quite a while, political handicappers have given Bilbray a comfortable lead heading into the November rematch. In some political campaigns, leading candidates often ignore their opponents in hopes of not legitimizing a challenger. But in an earlier interview for an article about the coalescing race for California’s 50th Congressional District, Jacobs said the Bilbray camp planned on campaigning as if it were 10 points behind in the polls.

They weren’t in grave danger of losing but campaigns get into grave danger when candidates turn away from them, Jacobs said then.

I’ll check back with the Bilbray campaign in a few days to see what he plans on doing.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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