06/07/2006 02:36 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

GOP Retains Dirty Duke's Seat: A Lesson Learned for Democrats?

So the GOP was able to hold onto the Duke Cunningham seat in California's 50th Congressional District.

Democrat Francine Busby actually did fairly well, losing to Republican Brian Bilbray by only 5 percent in a district where Republicans hold a 14 point edge in registration.

And, as Rick Jacobs points out, the GOP spent $10 million defending a supposedly "safe" Republican seat.

But, in the end, the problem for Busby wasn't the money -- it was the message.

Here's the money graph from the LA Times:

Busby, 55, a Cardiff school board member, made the Cunningham conviction for bribery and an alleged "culture of corruption" under President Bush and Republicans a centerpiece of her campaign. It is a theme that national Democrats hope to use in November.

"A theme that national Democrats hope to use in November?" Only if they want the same results. It looks like I'm gonna have to keep saying this again and again: "It's the national security, stupid!" Yes, Democrats should point out the GOP's "culture of corruption" -- but Iraq and how it has made America less safe needs to be the "centerpiece" of the 2006 campaign. Busby didn't do it and lost.

Will national Democrats learn the lesson of California's 50th?