Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Race Against The Clock: Still No GOP Light Guv Candidate; Damron To Fly Solo? Plus: The Case Of Colin & The Chicharrones, And: W Sets NM Intel Visit 

GOP Chair Weh
Has it ever happened before? I don't think so. But if the NM GOP doesn't hurry and soon field a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, they could become the first major party in modern NM history to run a candidate for Governor without a running mate. The situation is serious because any contender, and none have announced so far, needs to get some 1800 GOP petition signatures to make the June primary ballot and secure the nomination. Will there be a candidate?

"(NM GOP Chairman) Colonel Weh is having negotiations with several people. To my knowledge, none of them are legislators and there is not an announced candidate," GOP probable Guv nominee J. R. Damron told me from his Santa Fe medical offices Monday.

"Someone is missing a great opportunity," chirped the upbeat M.D., despite the long odds of victory over Big Bill and now the growing concern that the party could be embarrassed by failing to recruit a number two for Damron.

ABQ GOP State Senator Kent Cravens, mentioned here months ago as a possible, is a no go. "I am too busy with my business and the Legislature," Cravens told me over the weekend while I pondered the quandary during a brisk walk in a howling wind.

The deadline for getting the petitions is February 14. Yes, it can be done, even at this late date, but it will take a major effort as Damron told me after weeks of work he has yet to get all his signatures. And he is not alone. Getting people to sign anything these days is not easy and candidates from both sides of the aisle are fretting as the day of reckoning nears. Some of them are going to come up short and will be forced out.

WHAT IF....?

And what, in the not completely unlikely event that the R's fail to come up with a Light Guv hopeful in time to get the petitions? "They could file someone as a write-in and that person would have to receive as many votes as the petition requirement in order to become part of the ticket," offered one political pro.

But fielding a write-in candidate for the number two slot would send a message that the R's are practically giving the Guv a free ride, an argument they are already getting an earful of.

Why is it so hard to get someone to run? The obvious answer is that Big Bill is the odds-on favorite and this one is a loser from the start. Still, both parties have faced those prospects in the past, but managed to come up with an early credible ticket.

When Colonel Weh went looking for an ABQ GOP mayoral candidate last year, he nearly came up empty until Brad Winter got in the race, only to be landslided by Mayor Marty, in part, because of the late start.

The R's are doing OK on the other statewide races, all of which have announced contenders. But Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico is not an honorific position and the party risks harsh judgement if a serious problem becomes an embarrassment.

Who, if anyone, will step forward? Stay tuned.


Meanwhile, radiologist Damron continues to tour the state and argue that NM is "still at the bottom of all the right lists and at the top of all the bad ones." I asked if he was disappointed that his call for rebating to taxpayers half of the over half-billion dollar General Fund surplus has not gained much traction. "I still favor that. We need to fully fund current programs before starting new ones," he declared.

ABQ GOP Senators Ryan and Cravens have introduced a plan to rebate a third of the surplus, but the Santa Fe pork party is in full swing and chances of it passing are slim to none. Big Bill is proposing a $30 million tax cut.


Staying with the GOP theme, we are determined, I guess, to make Colin Hunter, legislative director for Rep. Heather Wilson, a persona of sorts. At our Barelas Coffee House chicharrones party, we ribbed him over his "preppy" style and "WASP" appearance. That after lousing up his last name. But Colin, don't worry. You've got friends.

"That boy is a New Mexico native. He has a law degree from UNM, and close ties to some of the state's ranching families down Roswell way," penned one Colin aficionado and blog Gatorette.

And another: "I've known Colin since before he entered kindergarten. He was born in Albuquerque, lived in Durango (CO) and the state of Washington and then returned to Albuquerque where he graduated high school," wrote Colin fan Amy Horowitz.

If Heather's support is as ardent as Colin's, she's going to have a heck of a year. And we should go easy on the "preppy" comments. You can dress me, a native of Pennsylvania, out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue.


President Bush will visit ABQ Friday as part of his post State of the Union speech tour. Word was circulating late Monday that Intel in Rio Rancho would be one of his stops. He will overnight Thursday in ABQ...If you don't think bloggers are held to high standards, read our e-mail some time. "It's Army 'Corps,' not 'corp' frowned Socorro reader David Findley in pointing out the error of our ways...Dem Public Regulation Commission candidate Andrew Leo Lopez reminded us that the deadline for getting petition signatures for the PRC races is March 21 not Feb. 14. Statewide candidates have until Feb. 14. We reported that State Senator Nava is collecting them for a PRC run down south.

Ah, the quest for infallibility. I'll keep trying, if Archbishop Sheehan gives me a pass. Meanwhile, thanks for the company today. Let's do it again tomorrow.

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