Thursday, February 17, 2005
The Chief of Staff to southern NM GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is headed for the exits, and this latest and highest-profile departure from Pearce's den has the coffee klatchers speculating. Jim Richards, a congressional veteran and NM native who worked five years for Pearce's predecessor Joe Skeen and who has been with Pearce since he came into office, says he will leave at the end of the month to take a lobbying job with Cornerstone Public Affairs. Several other staffers have recently left Pearce who was elected in a landslide to a second term last November. A Washington D.C. Alligator reports for us direct from the scene:
"In the last six months Pearce has lost Gail Gitcho, press secretary, Ricardo Bernal, legislative aide/Press Secretary (replaced Gail), Megan McCarl, legislative aide, and now Richards. There may be a 5th on the way out the door as well, but that has not yet been confirmed. The word is that Pearce's is difficult to work for."
That is quite a few exit huggers over a short time period. And maybe Pearce is tough to work for, as our Alligator claims, but maybe he's also trying to find the right personality mix as he moves to higher ground in the U.S. House. Few top staffers are "lifers" on the Hill, usually moving on to greener pastures after several years. NM's Heather Wilson has also had regular turnover. But when they run into each other while heading out the door, the guardians of La Politica are awakened.
It has almost become a parlor game of NM politics; which party chair will be the first to call for an officials resignation when that official disgraces himself? So far, Dem chair John Wertheim is the hands-down winner, now calling for GOP drinking and driving Socorro Judge Tom Fitch to step down. Wertheim also called for the resignation of Dem Public Regulation Commissioner Shirley Baca when she was busted for pot possession. GOP chair Weh has not issued any resignation calls, but this being New Mexico, we have a feeling Weh will get a chance to compete with Wertheim soon in this ignominious contest. Meanwhile, Fitch has admitted his guilt and will get two days in the pokey and undergo addiction treatment,
Top legal insiders close to the situation tell me Fitch is not trying to hang on and plans to leave the bench, but because of questions over his retirement and future health benefits he has stalled on the resignation.
MY BOTTOM LINES
Phillip Muller, who managed the 2002 U.S. Senate campaign of Dem Gloria Tristani against Pete Domenici, has moved himself and his company, Political Technologies Inc., to our Enchanted Land. In addition to providing strategic advice and campaign management services, the firm specializes in building databases to win campaigns for Democrats. Muller recently worked for successful NM Court of Appeals candidate Michael Vigil.....Donna Kanin, wife of Corrales Mayor Gary Kanin, was known far and wide in New Mexico. The 71 year old actress, community volunteer, radio talk-show host, entertainment director for the NM State Fair and longtime organizer of the ABQ's Press Club annual Gridiron Dinner, was called by death February 13. The cause was lung cancer.
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