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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Here We Go: Dr. D' s Guv Campaign Set To Launch, Plus: Big Bill: 'All Puff, No Cigar' Charge R's As Immigration Issue Boils, And: Judy Craps Out 

Dr. D has a deadline. Santa Fe M.D. James Damron, the GOP's sole hope so far for an R challenger to Big Bill in 2006, will launch his campaign for the state's highest elected office on or about September 20, according to our sources knee-deep in the action. "He is a go. A big issue will be money. The governor could raise well north of $7 million. Damron needs a quick million to get things started," offered up our insider.

There has not been so much as a whisper of another R challenger against the first term Dem Guv who has made no secret that he is looking for a big re-elect win to use as a springboard to the White House in 2008. "Dr. Damron is a pragmatic guy. He's no dummy and will be able to make the conservative case. But he needs to overcome the sense of futility among many Republicans." Analyzed our informer.

Damron, a 60 year old radiologist who told me in March that he would use some of his own dough to fund his campaign, will start with a base of about 35%. Big Bill will try to end it there and come in with the psychologically important number of 60%. It won't be easy. That's why top Democrats tell me that the state party now has well over a dozen staffers working the field on the East side to dampen any hopes Damron may have in scoring big in "Little Texas."

Damron may not be the seasoned politico the R's want, but at least he is a player on the field and will be able to counter the Guv in the free media. You mean something like a two party system? You remember that, don't you?

CROSSING SWORDS OVER BORDER


Meanwhile, Big Bill moved to the right on the immigration issue this week and even got the NM GOP to issue a press release praising his state of emergency on the New Mexico-Mexican border. But on the national scene they play for keeps and were not biting on the bait. Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, one of the nation's more incisive conservative critics, did the heavy hitting on this one as R's fear our Guv is trying to steal a key issue from them. Possible NM Dem U.S. Senate contender David Pfeffer got a national pop from Fund for his catchy quote that Big Bill is "all puff and no cigar." Gosh, the last time we heard about cigars and politicians was when Monica and Bill were on the hit list. Let's not go there again! Here's the money graphs from the Fund piece and you can read the whole thing here.

"He (Big Bill) is demanding that officials on the Mexican side bulldoze an abandoned town on the border that serves "as a staging area for illegal drugs and illegal aliens." But Mr. Richardson sang a different tune in late 2003, when he showed up at a rally for the "Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride" and told them, "¡Viva la raza! . . . Thank you for coming to Santa Fe. Know that New Mexico is your home. We will protect you. You have rights here." Jaime Becerril, one of the organizers of the freedom ride, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the participants favored a new amnesty program. He called immigration "a byproduct of colonialism and capitalism."

Further evidence of the governor's zigzag policy on immigration came in April when he vetoed a "No Fear" bill, which would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal authorities to detect or apprehend people based solely on immigration status. But then he quietly issued an executive order that had much the same effect. Earlier this year, he also signed legislation giving some illegal aliens the right to in-state tuition rates at public universities.

"The governor is all puff and no cigar,"says David Pfeffer, a Santa Fe city councilman who abandoned the Democratic Party this past March when he concluded its members "were closer to Michael Moore than to me." He expects the governor "to run for national office while saying one thing while he does something else back home."

Ouch. We welcome a brief retort from the Big Bill spin room.

THEN THERE WERE FOUR


No great shakes over that Tuesday Supreme Court ruling clearing the ABQ city clerk of any wrongdoing when she reviewed petition signatures of the mayor candidates and found those of Judy Espinosa wanting. Judy's unsuccessful court challenge means she's very likely off the ballot and out of the game. That leaves four contenders, Mayor Marty, R Brad Winter and D's Eric Griego and David Steele. The ruling was most important for Griego who would have had no chance if fellow liberal Judy had made the ballot. It's also good news for Marty who can now see the math of getting 40% a bit clearer. If he gets it he avoids a run-off and is re-elected.

A BOTTOM LINE


Supporters of ABQ city council candidate Isaac Benton were rejoicing over the Supreme Court petition ruling Tuesday. The ruling also kept two possible contenders, including Hispanic activist Juan Jose Pena, off the ballot in the downtown/Barelas district. Still on is Benton and Diana Dorn-Jones. Benton’s backers think their liberal Dem will get most of the Hispanic vote now and take the crown. We shall see. And I hope to see you back right here tomorrow. Thanks for the company.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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