Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Heather, Patsy And the War: How Did It Get The Early Start? We Have The Report, Also: Angling For Auditor, And: Who Shot J.R. (Damron, That Is)
It will be the premier New Mexico political race of 2006. No doubt about that. In fact, I recently fielded a call from the national desk of the Los Angeles Times to discuss what contest they will target as a bellwether for their readers. The Heather Wilson-Patricia Madrid face-off is one of two they are considering tracking from beginning to end to keep tabs on the national mood and whether the GOP House majority is endangered.
Which leads us back to Heather's bold statement that it would be looking in "the rear view mirror" and a "distraction" for the House Intelligence Committee, of which she is a member, to investigate pre-Iraq war intelligence and where and how it went wrong. Why the controversial statement now, which Dem Madrid seized upon to score early political points? And not just with the partisans. The ABQ Journal, generally supportive of the GOP's Wilson, slapped her wrist with this editorial and then followed with a slew of letters to the editor taking her to task.
Curious insiders are asking just how this story emerged so early as a campaign hot potato. Me too. So I checked in with veteran Journal science writer John Fleck who penned the missive that kicked off what will be a long and hard fought congressional duel.
THE FLECK FACTOR
Fleck informs that Heather, on a tour of Sandia Labs with House Intelligence Chair Peter Hoekstra, did not raise the issue. "I asked the question because I have been following the controversy over aluminum tubes in Iraq that were mistakenly thought to indicate an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. I was not approaching it as a political question."
But Heather's hard-hitting language immediately red-flagged the story and it ended up a page one write-up and launched the campaign over the war.
And why was Heather so hard-hitting when she usually plays low-key on issues that divide the moderate district? Several theories abound including one that she turned it up because she was with her committee chairman who has stalled a pre-war probe. Another longtime Heather watcher said the tough tone was really not that unusual, but choosing to use it on the hyper-controversial Iraq war was the issue.
The Dems are hoping that the refusal to investigate will have long legs. "Even if the war turns her way, we will still have this issue of what went wrong. It's something that even supporters of the war may relate to and her position can be summed up neatly in a TV spot," analyzed the campaign operative.
It's worth repeating. The Iraq war is comparable to the campaign politics during the Vietnam saga. Before it's over Madrid and Wilson will both have their mettle tested like never before. And that's what makes for a premier political race.
We've got a contest for the Dem nomination for state auditor. Tuesday we reported that Jeff Armijo was in the running, but that some Dems were hoping for a rival. They have one. Tom Buckner, deputy superintendent for the state Regulation and Licensing Department is out collecting signatures.
He tells me he has served as a bank examiner for the FDIC and has lived in Rio Rancho since 97.' He's 64 and was appointed to his post by Big Bill. He also worked for Attorney General Madrid as a Medicaid fraud investigator. He adds: "I've got nothing against Jeff. May the best man win." And 35 year old Jeff, second cousin of ABQ Mayor Marty, phones in: "I like Tom." Come on fellas, you're going to give politics a bad name.
Is there an R auditor candidate yet? Not that I have heard. Have you?
SPELL CHECKER FOR HIRE
Sometimes I even surprise myself with my bizarre late-night spelling screw-ups. Tuesday it was R Guv candidate "J.R Damson," when it should have been "J.R. Damron." I guess the question isn't who shot J.R. but who butchered his name. I have lashed myself ten times with a wet noodle and will now link to Dr. D's Web site as atonement for my sin for which I was gently roasted by several watchful blog editors.
Listen, but listen quick. The state GOP has put up a radio ad on conservative talker 770 KKOB-AM labeling Big Bill "King Bill" as they try to make hay over his pro baseball record. It's more of a symbolic play as the ad is up on just one station and ends Thursday. But it's the "earned media" they are after which they just got here and from the AP's Barrey Massey as well.
Corrections, criticisms, and of course, the latest political news, is always welcome. There's an e-mail link at the top of the page. Drop me a line. See ya' soon.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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