The Note: Late Returns

WASHINGTON, Apr. 11

Democrats could find out today whether their "culture of corruption" message has legs when voters near San Diego, CA choose from among 18 candidates to replace Duke Cunningham, the former Republican congressman who was sentenced last month to more than eight years in prison for taking bribes from defense contractors.

Polls open at 10:00 am ET and close at 11:00 pm ET. The day's results are expected to be known by about 1:00 am ET. There are no network exit polls.

Democrat Francine Busby, a local school board member who ran unsuccessfully against Cunningham in 2004, is widely expected to finish first in today's balloting.

Finishing first, however, will not be enough for victory. A candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff on June 6. Some handicappers believe that what will appear to be a bad night tonight for the GOP in this Republican-leaning district will be OK come June 7 because whichever candidate makes the run-off against Busby will beat her.

But (and here we will use one of the three April chances we are allocated by Disney to quote Yogi Berra in The Note to say), prediction is difficult, especially about the future.

With several strong Republicans in the race, the outcome on the GOP side is far from clear. The strongest GOP contenders are expected to be former Rep. Brian Bilbray, businessman Eric Roach, former state Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, and state Sen. Bill Morrow.

President Bush visits Lutheran senior services at Helsinger Bluffs in Jefferson City, MO at 1:10 pm ET. He participates in a discussion on the Medicare prescription-drug benefit plan at the Etta and Joseph Miller Performing Arts Center in Jefferson City AT 1:50 pm ET. He visits Wesley Acres in Des Moines, IA at 4:45 pm ET and attends a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Nussle's (R-IA) gubernatorial campaign at the HyVee Hall in Des Moines, IA at 6:05 pm ET. The fundraiser is expected to raise $750,000, according to the Des Moines Register.

Vice President Cheney visits the clubhouses of baseball's New York Mets and Washington Nationals at 12:20 pm ET and throws out the first pitch at the Nationals' opening home game at RFK Stadium at 12:57 pm ET.

The First Lady introduces former President Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush at the Public Dedication and Ribbon Cutting of the President's Boyhood home at 3:00 pm. ET in Midland, TX.

Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times provides a preview and writes of the historic site's organizers' search for a fitting narrative. LINK

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will criticize the Bush Administration's economic policies while delivering a major speech in Chicago today. Bloomberg's Litvan and Benjamin have a preview: LINK

Grassroots activists who want Sen. Clinton to run for president in 2008 will unite at 6:30 pm ET at Arte restaurant (21 E. 9th St.) for their first 2008 New York City MeetUp. The first Hillary for President in the DC area will be held at 7:00 pm ET at Valentino's New York Style Pizza in Alexandria, VA.

In a 5:00 pm ET speech in San Francisco, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) is expected to call for capping the amount of greenhouse gases California industries can emit, a policy rejected by the Bush administration, when he speaks in San Francisco today.

More from the San Francisco Chronicle LINK and Los Angeles Times: LINK

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