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Monday, November 07, 2005

The Quiet Candidate: Farmington Doc's Under The Radar U.S. Senate Bid, And: Going Gay: GOP Log Cabins Change Leaders; Plus: Big Bill TV Spot Reviewed 

He's raised over $141 thousand and is popping up on the campaign trail, but the GOP U.S. Senate candidacy of Farmington urologist Allen McCullloch has so far been an under the radar affair. So much so that Quinn McCord, state editor of the political bible--the National Journal's Hotline In D.C.--checked in late Friday asking us why McCulloch's fundraising wasn't mentioned in news dispatches that did report that GOP Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer has raised $21,000 in his bid for the right to take on NM Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman. Beats me, but the news is out now. McCord reports that McCulloch met with national GOP officials in early October who called him an "impressive candidate."

Meanwhile, one of our blog contributors down south, Avelino Maestas of the Silver City Daily Press, let us know that the Doc was campaigning in his area last week. Being the political junkie that he is, Maestas even forwarded coverage of the visit by his competition.

The only mention until now of McCulloch's candidacy came on your blog in August (Hey Doc, send us a photo) but it's clear that he is a serious contender for the nomination and probably the frontrunner with his San Juan County base and the ability to so far outraise Pfeffer by seven to one. (Don't worry D's, Senator Jeff has $1.4 mil in cash already). If he does get the nod, he will likely join fellow M.D. James Damron on the ballot who is the R's favorite for Guv. Neither have any political experience, but that may be just what the doctor ordered in today's political climate.

GAY LEADER GOING

Meanwhile, a GOP group that breaks with conservative orthodoxy on at least one issue continues to thrive. The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights advocacy group, now boasts over 200 NM members according to outgoing chapter president and local founder Patrick Killen. He's passing the leadership baton to ABQ's Michael Hills, but before he does he passes some thoughts on to us.

"I'm proud of the work that I've been able to do on behalf of NM Republicans who support equality for every American, regardless of sexual orientation. The activism of our members has been credited in-part for the veto of anti-gay legislation by the Navajo Nation President.

"Going from being an aide to a number of prominent state Republicans to a voice in the fight for gay and lesbian equality in 2004 was challenging, but I felt it was the right thing to do. One day, I hope to see my Republican Party regard homosexuality as a "non-issue" and get back to unifying issues like restraining government spending."

Killen did stick his neck out just as the national R's were effectively making gay marriage a hot button issue that helped them keep the White House. Still, if polls have it right the 20 somethings like Killen will indeed making sexuality a "non-issue" in the years ahead. However, they have a way to go. There has only been one openly gay elected official in NM--Liz Stefanics who served a term in the state senate from northern NM.

BIG BILL TV REVIEW

Do you think that Big Bill TV spot is pretty corny? The one that says his suits don't fit "but he sure fits New Mexico?" Well, you are not alone. They are pretty corny, but for the general public they work just fine, said most of the politicians I asked. They come at a sensitive time for the Big Guy. That ABQ Journal poll showing him at 53% approval among registered voters--probably higher among likely voters--has to shake up his political staff. The TV spot uses two cowboys as narrators and comes just as those tax rebates are popping up in mailboxes.

There is problem with the spot, however. It credits the Guv with accelerating the income tax cuts he got passed in 2003. That was actually done in the recent special legislative session over his objection. But he did grudgingly sign it.

The spot is the earliest in gubernatorial re-election history, but ex-State Rep Bengie Regensberg of Mora has talked of a Dem primary challenge to the Guv, and when you plan on spending a record-setting $10 million to win another four years, you might want to get started early.

Send me your comments, news, corrections and criticisms to the e-mail link provided on this page and thanks for tuning in today.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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