Peters trails Bilbray in tight congressional race

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SAN DIEGO — The early returns also showed Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, with an early lead of 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent over Port Commissioner Scott Peters in the 52nd District.

Democrats believe they have a strong chance to unseat Bilbray, after redistricting moved his district into unfamiliar inland territory.

Peters attempted to paint Bilbray as a tool of far-right elements of the Republican Party who wants to privatize Social Security, make Draconian cuts to education and scientific research and reduce the social safety net for the elderly, ill and disabled.

Bilbray has denied Peters’ claims on entitlements and contends Peters is largely to blame for the city of San Diego’s one-time fiscal mess, which occurred while he was a councilman, and has taken to calling his opponent the “Bernie Madoff of San Diego.”

The reference to the financier who committed the largest financial fraud scheme in U.S. history relates to the underfunding of the city of San Diego’s employee pension system, which sent municipal finances into a tailspin.

Three other incumbents — Hunter, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego — were all re-elected.