SOLANA BEACH — Several months after it was rumored Dave Roberts might make a run for the 50th Congressional District, the Solana Beach councilman last week announced his candidacy, becoming the third Democrat to challenge Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray.
Roberts joins Tracy Emblem, an attorney from Escondido, and Francine Busby, who has been defeated by Bilbray in three of her four attempts to represent the district that includes North County coastal cities from Oceanside to Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos and Escondido.
Roberts said it was the “overwhelming support” he received that finally prompted him to run. “Everybody I talked to said they were looking for a change,” he said. “People kept saying they want new leadership — someone who will cross party lines to get things done.”
Roberts said he has a proven history of willingness to cross party lines, including past support of Bilbray over Busby.
Busby and Emblem, however, see his endorsement of the Republican congressman as a lack of party loyalty. Busby also questioned his reason for declining to state his political affiliation when he ran for City Council.
“That was a very unusual move,” Busby said. “He must have had other reasons for abandoning his party at that time.
“I have a history of persistence and commitment to values and to representing this district where I’ve lived for 20 years,” she said.
Emblem said the race has more to do with experience. As an attorney she said she is the only candidate “qualified to actually read the laws that are written.” She said the fact that she’s lived inland since 1964 also makes her the best candidate to defeat Bilbray.
“That’s where the Democrats are losing election after election,” she said. “They keep putting up coastal candidates. I represent the blue-collar working families.”
Roberts, 48, is originally from Connecticut and comes from a politically active family. His grandmother and grandfather were representatives in the Connecticut General Assembly, his grandfather worked in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and his mother worked for U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush from Connecticut.
Roberts earned his undergraduate degree in economics and political science from American University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s in financial management from the Department of Defense Graduate Level Financial Management Program. Currently serving his second term on the Solana Beach City Council, Roberts is vice president of a nonprofit health care information organization. He was appointed to the current administration’s advisory panel on Medicare education.
Roberts said he plans to focus his campaign on the three main issues currently impacting the district — the economy, health care and energy and the environment.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” he said.
Fritz Chaleff, communications director for Bilbray, said the congressman “absolutely believes any kind of democracy needs multiple participants.”
“It’s great to see people interested in the political process and (Roberts) certainly is,” Chaleff said.