Update 1:30 p.m.: Peters, preparing for taking office in Washington D.C., offered statement on his victory over Bilbray:
“This afternoon, I received a very gracious phone call from Congressman Brian Bilbray. He wished me luck and offered his support. We agreed that while it was a tough, hard-fought campaign, now is the time to put it behind us. I thanked him for his service and look forward to his support as I transition into office.
I’m in our nation’s capitol this week, working hard, and getting ready to hit the ground running on behalf of the people of the 52nd District. I am very grateful to the hundreds of people who walked, called, contributed and gave me their support; it was their energy and enthusiasm that put us over the top in this close race.
There’s much to do. I’m encouraged by the tremendous group of colleagues I’ve met here so far: freshman members of Congress, because like me, they all heard loud and clear during their campaigns that voters are tired of the partisanship, tired of politicians who put party over people. I look forward to working with everyone to get things done for San Diego and the American people.”
Ending one of the most expensive congressional elections in the country, Rep. Brian Bilbray on Friday conceded his defeat to Democratic challenger Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District.
Bilbray started his political career in Imperial Beach and was the city's mayor from 1978 to 1985.
His son Brian Pat Bilbray is a member of the Imperial Beach City Council and will likely return to office for a second term after a closely fought election.
As of Thursday, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office said Peters led Bilbray, a six-term member of the House, by nearly 4,000 votes: 136,345 to 132,468—or 50.72 percent to 49.28 percent.
The district covers Coronado and La Jolla along the coast, then stretches east to take in Rancho Bernardo and Poway.
“With the majority of votes counted, I would like to congratulate Scott Peters in his bid to serve the citizens of the 52nd Congressional District and the people of San Diego,” Republican Bilbray said in a statement, adding:
I would like to take this moment to thank all the supporters of my campaign. This was an expensive and hard-fought campaign that drew national interest. I appreciated the spirited dialogue that often accompanies campaigns like this. While Scott and I differed sharply on how to handle the issues facing our nation, now is the time to put those differences aside and find common ground to address our country’s many challenges.
Looking back, I take great pride in what my team has been able to accomplish in my time in Congress.
I was fortunate to have environmental bills passed and signed into law: The Border Smog Protection Act that strengthened the Clean Air Act and the Beaches Environment Assessment and Coastal Health Act that strengthened the Clean Water Act, as well as a bill to clean up Lake Hodges. I also take great pride in protecting veteran benefits with the passage of a two-year budget cycle and honor their service by protecting the Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial.
I endeavored to open my colleagues’ eyes to the promise of renewable fuels that will one day curb our dependence on foreign oil. And finally, something very close to me, reforming the bureaucracy to get cures to patients faster and increasing medical research funding to one day turn cancer into a manageable disease.
As for me, I will continue fighting for the issues I believe in and that benefit San Diego, only in a different capacity. I look forward to finally having the opportunity to spend time with my family and seven grandkids. I wish Scott and his family the very best in his endeavors.
The registrar has been counting provisional ballots in the Bilbray-Peters race, which was too close to call until Friday. Some 120,000 votes were still uncounted as of Thursday, the office reported.