Election 2012: Who is Brian Bilbray?

Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray
Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray

In the Know

Length of congressional term:

Two years

House of Representatives base salary:

$174,000 (Bilbray also receives a concurrent, $28,000 pension); cost-of-living-adjustment increases take effect annually unless Congress votes not to accept them.

Staff members:



Congressional retirement is funded via taxes and the participants’ contributions. Congress members are eligible for a pension when they reach age 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years or after they reach age 62. Congress members must serve at least five years to receive a pension.

An interview with the incumbent congressman who’s seeking his seventh term in a new locale

Note: The

La Jolla Light

recently met with 50th District Congressman Brian Bilbray to discuss his bid for another term, this time as representative of San Diego’s newly redrawn 52nd District. Interviews with the other candidates in the race — Republicans John Stahl and Wayne Iverson, and Democrat Lori Saldaña — will follow in coming editions of the


  1. An interview with Democrat Scott Peters, which ran in the Jan. 12 edition, can be viewed in its entirety



By Pat Sherman

San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray, a native of Coronado and former tax preparer, served as mayor of Imperial Beach before moving on to spend a decade on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. From 1995 to 2001 the Republican represented San Diego’s 49th congressional district (today the 53rd) before his defeat by Democrat Susan Davis, then a state Assemblywoman.

After leaving office that year, Bilbray registered as a Washington lobbyist. His clients included the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, SDG&E, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a conservative, anti-immigration group.

In 2006 Bilbray joined Congress again, this time in the 50th District, winning in a special election to replace disgraced fellow Republican Duke Cunningham, who is currently serving time in prison for felony conspiracy and tax evasion.

An avid surfer who spent his youth catching waves at La Jolla beaches, Bilbray has five children, one of which, Brian Patrick Bilbray, currently serves on the Imperial Beach City Council. Bilbray’s daughter, Briana, who battled Stage 3 melanoma, recently declared herself an advocate for medical marijuana dispensaries — something her father remains opposed to.

Viewed as the only truly competitive congressional race in the San Diego region, political pundits will be eyeing 52nd District results closely. In the first of California’s open primary elections on June 5 — during which independents or “Decline to State” voters may cast their ballot for a candidate from any party — the race should be close, as the district is divided nearly evenly between Democrats, Republicans and Decline to State voters.


La Jolla Light

recently spoke with Bilbray via phone.

La Jolla Light:

Please discuss any connections you have to La Jolla.

Brian Bilbray:

You cannot be a boy growing up in San Diego County, surfing, and not spend some quality time all over La Jolla — from Black’s Beach down to WindanSea all the way to the Shores. My first surfing contest was actually right there in the Shores. And probably the last one I did was a cancer luau at that same location that I competed at in high school. … It’s a surf contest/cancer research (fundraiser) we do every August, right in front of the Scripps Pier.



Be relevant, respectful, honest, discreet and responsible. Commenting Rules