Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Starting Line-Up Set For Campaign 06'; Who's Who And What To Watch For; The Stuff You Gotta Have Is Right Here 

Sec. Vigil-Giron
Candidates from across our Enchanted Land streamed into the Santa Fe offices of Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron Monday where she and her staff played mother hen and presided over the filing of thousands of petition signatures by candidates anxious to get their places at the starting line for Campaign 06'. Sources on both sides of the aisle checked in with the news that none of the top tier candidates for the major offices appears to be in danger of being disqualified for lack of signatures. (All filings here.)

Several of them made a show of it with Big Bill and Senator Jeff deluging the office with over 10,000 Dem signatures each, far above the necessary amount but useful in the psychological warfare in play at these early stages.

Most, if not all of the candidates, used paid consultants to help gather some of the John Does. R's were pleased to see their late announcing Lieutenant Governor candidate, ABQ State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort, come in with about 4,000 signatures, twice the legal limit. One insider reports the R's signed up for Sue the same out-of-state consulting group that was used by the GOP in 04' to help independent Prez candidate Ralph Nader make the NM ballot in hopes of peeling votes away from Dem Kerry. While Wilson Beffort looks safe, Dem Lt. Governor Diane Denish's campaign is sure to take a second look to make sure her paperwork is all in order.

Meantime, Santa Fe M.D. James Damron will secure the GOP nomination to take on Big Bill in the fall. Minister George Bailey could not come up with enough signatures but said he would run as a write-in. Job one for Doctor D is fundraising.

Francesca Lobato
There was a mild surprise on petition day. Perennial candidate Francesca Lobato, a Santa Fe bankruptcy lawyer, filed for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate for the right to take on Senator Bingaman. That was a twist. In her three previous congressional races she filed as a Dem. If her signatures stand, she will join ABQ State Senator Joe Carraro, Farmington urologist Allen McCulloch and Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer in the race.

Senator Bingaman called in from D.C. to congratulate staff on the thousands of sigs gathered on his behalf. He was also pleased to see Lobato file as an R, not a D. "That saves us $100,000 in a primary," said an aide. Of course, that's chicken feed in what will probably be a $4 million race for Bingaman, seeking a fifth, six year term.


Dem Patricia Madrid, taking on ABQ GOP U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, accompanied her signatures with a news release. "Rep. Wilson has supported President Bush's failed Medicare prescription drug legislation, his failing environmental policies, and his tax cuts." She said.

But the absence of any mention of the unpopular Iraq war may indicate the D's are still uncertain on how to play that wild card. Wilson's campaign again appears battle ready and still basking in the praise she won for her recent break with the White House over the domestic eavesdropping program.

Incumbent Congressmen Steve Pearce and Tom Udall are expected to have easy re-elects this time. But they will still have to earn it. Dem Al Kissling will challenge Pearce down south and up north R Ron Dolin filed for the Udall seat.

Dem Geno Zamora
Some R's are concerned about the State Treasurer's race while praising ABQ's Demesia Padilla for giving the party a candidate to take on either ex-Treasurer James Lewis or State Rep. Lucky Varela who are vying for the Dem nod and filed Monday. The concern being that the R's should have come with a better known candidate in the aftermath of the historic Treasurer scandal which led to the resignation and indictment of Treasurer Robert Vigil and the indictment of ex-Treasurer Michael Montoya.

As for Lewis and Varela, one Alligator framed that one this way: "Lucky is strong in the North. James is strong in ABQ. This one could come down to middle-class Anglo votes down south." He analyzed.

The Dem race for attorney general saw Sandoval county District Attorney Lem Martinez top the field with about 9,000 signatures. Santa Fe's Geno Zamora filed a similar amount and Gary King was not far behind with over 7,000. King told me last night the race is already heating up and left me with the impression that negative campaign could break out any day. Of course, when you are the frontrunner, you expect the hits to come.

On the GOP side, Bob Schwartz and Jim Bibb, as expected, filed for AG, setting up an exciting duel for their party as well.

Three Hispanic Dems and Anglo Shirley Hooper filed for Sec. of State. Could Shirley sneak by frontrunner Stephanie Gonzales, Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera and Santa Fe's Letitia Montoya? Ex-ABQ City Councilor VIckie Perea will carry the banner for the R's.


The battle for the Dem nod for State Land Commissioner is already well underway with ex-land bosses Ray Powell and Jim Baca filing their names and immediately launching into campaign mode. Baca telling me he is challenging Powell and incumbent GOP commissioner Patrick Lyons to release details of their campaign spending and donors every two weeks until the June 6th primary.

Powell, working for southern NM support, told me: "Senator Domenici has proposed legislation for Dona Ana County that would protect about 218,000 acres of wilderness. That's great. But the plan also requires the sale of 65 thousand acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land near Las Cruces. I say no to the sale of our public lands."

The aggressiveness of Baca and Powell is the marking of two old pros. R Lyons may have to spend a million dollars to retain the seat no matter which of these seasoned D's prevails in the June primary. The catch for Jim and Ray? He may be able to raise it.

Let's see if any challenges result over the thousands of sigs filed Monday. For now, the good news is that it appears there will be contested races for all the major offices.

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