Monday, January 24, 2005

The Press At The Capitol; Who's Who? Plus: Heather vs. Pearce? Alligators Already Starting The Talk 

Ernie Mills, Bob Barth, Bill Feather, Larry Calloway. All of them were giants in covering the New Mexico Legislature. Today they are all gone from the Capitol (only Calloway survives and is long retired)leading to the question: who is the dean of the NM press corp in Santa Fe? Well, it ain't one of the good ol' boys any longer.

The honor (or the punishment) goes to the Associated Press's Deborah Baker. She has been covering the Merry Roundhouse for 15 consecutive years and has nearly 25 years with the legendary wire service. Baker knows New Mexico politics can be off the beaten path having covered legislatures back East. Her boss, Santa Fe AP Bureau Chief Barrey Massey, is close behind with 12 sessions under his belt and also 25 years of AP experience, including many in Washington, D.C.

That grizzled journalism veteran, Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican, is covering his fifth session, even though it seems he has been around forever. Walt Rubel covers for a slew of southern NM newspapers, including the Las Cruces Sun-News.

I miss wire service veteran Calloway for revealing where the bodies are buried in the state bureaucracy; radio's Mills for his institutional memory; radio's Barth for his work ethic and the AP's Feather for his devotion and fairness.(Syndicated columnist Jay Miller is still on the job and brings the history of NM to today's readers)

But it's Baker and Massey who continue the AP tradition and its reports with an edge. (Massey filed the other day about "smoke and mirrors" allegations in Big Bill's budget). They are on the mark year after year, no matter who is in power. It's also easier to read them in years past as the newspapers outside of ABQ carry them the most and those papers are now on line.


Much of the future of covering politics will be in providing analysis and perspective. The daily press is still obsessed with covering as much "news" as possible, even if it's just a bill introduction. And they do a good job of it. But in the years ahead, internet-trained readers will be seeking more than just the facts.

Talented thirty somethings like the ABQ Trib's Shea Andersen and the ABQ Journal Capitol team of Lenderman, Nash and Miles will see their jobs redefined in ways we can only imagine today. I know. Thirty years ago when I was hammering out missives at KUNM-FM radio in ABQ, I never imagined a thing called the internet nor that I would be writing on it. It's all part of the long march of our beloved La Politica.

Rep. Pearce
Is it to early to be thinking about a day when GOP U.S. Reps Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce might face-off for their party's nomination for a U.S. Senate seat? Apparently not. Roll Call, an insider Capitol Hill newspaper, mentioned Heather as a candidate for the GOP in an article titled "Searching for a Dream Team." This in regard to Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman and if he chose not to make a re-election run.

No sooner had that hit the streets (and the Net) than I get this e-mail from the Hill and an obvious Pearce backer. "I disagree that she is a "Dream Team" candidate. If Bush 04' proved anything, it was that a strong conservative candidate with a good turnout operation can win by tapping into the southeastern portion of the state. Someone like Steve Pearce would probably have a better shot at winning both the nomination and the general election. Trying to win as a Republican in New Mexico is now nearly impossible if you focus your efforts on Albuquerque and run on a moderate agenda, like Wilson would surely attempt to do." So stung the highly placed pro-Pearce politico.

I guess it is never too early when the prize is the power and prestige of the United States Senate. By the way, most junkies expect Jeff to run again in 06', with an announcement coming after the Legislative session. We'll keep you posted.

Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign