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Monday, February 06, 2006

R's Finally Set 06' Ticket; Sen. Wilson Beffort Goes For Light Guv; Lamb Or Lion? We Look At It The Way You Like, Inside And Indepth 

Sen. Wilson Beffort
She may end up being a sacrificial lamb, but ABQ State Senator and last minute GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Sue Wilson Beffort will have to be dragged kicking to the slaughterhouse. The three term lawmaker, perhaps best known for advocating a ban on the breeding of pit bull terriers, will likely resist becoming the all out attack dog traditionally reserved for the number two, but her record shows she has the potential to more than hold her own in the political dogfight to come.

Wilson Beffort, 58, spared the R's and their Chairman Allen Weh major embarrassment by announcing over the weekend that she will join likely GOP Guv nominee J.R. Damron of Santa Fe to form the 06' GOP ticket. Her first order of business will be to shed the image of a candidate of last resort and demonstrate that her successful past has prepared her for the bright and sometimes harsh lights perpetually shining on the statewide stage of La Politica.

DIANE, MEET SUE

The senator and the state's current #2, Light Guv Diane Denish, share common ground. Both have accomplished fathers. Wilson Beffort's helped found the University of New Mexico Medical School in 61' and Diane's dad, Jack Daniels, was an accomplished businessman and veteran of the state political scene. They also share a concern over domestic violence with the state senator asking the Legislature for $3 million this year to combat the problem and Diane taking on similar concerns with her children's cabinet. And Wilson Beffort is a longtime businesswoman who owned an employment agency and remains in that field. Denish has run her own marketing and research business.

But these ladies part ways on money matters. Wilson Beffort is a bedrock conservative opposed to the statewide minimum wage increase and especially Santa Fe's ordinance placing the pay scale at $9.50 an hour. She is also an advocate of a more private approach to providing insurance to state Medicaid recipients. The senator was instrumental in helping Big Bill get GOP support for his 03' personal income tax cuts and is not a benchwarmer on either the Senate Finance or powerful Legislative Finance committees.

Some hardcore GOP eyebrows may be raised when they note that Wilson Beffort failed to vote when the "Defense of Marriage Act" calling for a ban on same-sex marriages passed the senate last year. (It failed to make it into law) And they will further note that she supports the Spaceport for southern NM while ticket-topper Damron does not. But they will probably be mostly thankful for finally having a candidate. Sue will have to get 1881 GOP petition signatures and file them by Feb. 14 to make the ballot. Dems are sure to monitor to see that she crosses that hurdle. With party help, she probably will.

SIZING UP SUE

While the chances of upsetting Big Bill are slim, the Light Guv spot makes the senator an instant statewide political figure (joining that other Wilson, Heather) and positions her as a new leadership voice (if she desires) as well as other political possibilities.

Wilson Beffort landlsided her D opponent in her heavy GOP district in 96' and ran unopposed in 00' and 04. Blessed with this luxury of popularity and free re-election rides, she has largely avoided the intra-party warfare that broke out in the state party ranks two years ago and created divisions that continue to this day. But because she has had it easy, her fundraising and campaign trail abilities may be rusty. She raised only $11,000 in 04'. Her debating skills, honed in the Legislature, are also about to be tested, perhaps in TV forums with Denish who over the years has successfully sharpened her knives on an array of foes. Anyone remember Jerry Sandel?

The newest statewide political player will get some help from home. Her husband, Steven Beffort, headed the NM General Services Department under GOP Guv Johnson and has been a contributor to R candidates. He should have an understanding of what's to come. He is now UNM's associate vice president for facility planning.

BOTTOM LINE IT, JOE

Geographically the new GOP ticket lacks eastside and rural conservative appeal, but it may open up an GOP opportunity among women voters statewide. Most important, Wilson Beffort gives the party a competent face with tinges of moderation who can make a case for the ticket on television and in the national press which will cover the contest because of Big Bill's presidential ambitions. In fact, while Sue is known in political circles, the R's anxiously await the initial performance of rookie J.R. Damron leading some to wonder why she did not pursue the top spot.

But it will be Damron who will feel the full, unrelenting heat of a major league campaign assault not only for the governorship but for the presidency of the American nation. The Big Bill camp is betting they can get him to fold early, but the addition of Wilson Beffort could complicate that. After all, who knows pit bulls better?

BUSHSPEAK


For those of you who have to have it, we got it. Here's the complete transcript of the President's Intel visit at Rio Rancho Friday. Did he really say Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman is doing a "fine job?" Yes, he did.

ANYONE HOME?

You never know whose reading your stuff and that's especially true the past few days. Apparently my blog host, Blogger.com, is having a mess of technical problems and folks who come here via www.joemonahan.com are shut out. You can still access the
site at my old address--www.joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com.
Please pass that on to those who are having trouble. Hopefully, the tech wreck will be fixed soon. Otherwise, I will continue talking to myself. Maybe the therapy will do me some good.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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