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With less than two weeks to go until the Nov. 7 election, Francine Busby is planning to kick off a television ad blitz on Saturday. While observers say national Republicans will likely come to U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray’s aid, his spokesman said the congressman has no plans to launch his own ads any time soon.

On Thursday, Busby’s campaign sent out an e-mail to supporters asking them to help fund a television ad that focuses largely on the war in Iraq. But Busby may not need their money.

Busby continues to maintain a financial lead over Bilbray, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission last week. As of Oct. 18, the most recent reporting period, Busby had roughly $320,000 in her campaign account while Bilbray had $183,000.

Political consultants say she could flood the airwaves with the war chest on hand.

That’s not the only good news for Busby.

On Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added the 50th District to its “Red to Blue” program, which provides financial and structural aid to the strongest Democratic candidates across the country. The program is designed to expand the fundraising base for targeted campaigns.

Local political consultant Christopher Crotty said he expects to see the DCCC fund a series of television ads on Busby’s behalf, although nothing on the scale of the millions of dollars that were spent leading up to the June special election.

Not all of those expenditures benefited Busby. Republican interests poured in millions of their own and voters were bombarded with negative ads. Additionally, Busby admits that she often appeared stiff and contrived in her own ads.

During an interview last week, Busby’s campaign manger, Ray Drew, said he didn’t anticipate that either party would jump into the race.

“I really don’t expect them to be contributing and I’m actually quite happy about that,” he said. “From the beginning we have maintained complete control of how this campaign is run.”

Drew also downplayed the possibility of buying television ad time. He said Busby’s campaign efforts were focused on getting out the vote.

While a spokesman from the Bilbray campaign said on Thursday that he didn’t know of any forthcoming television ads, Crotty said it’s only a matter of time.

“There’s no way that Busby would go up on TV positive or negative and Bilbray wouldn’t respond,” he said.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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