Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Maxing Out For Heather & Patsy, Plus: Big Bill & Bruce King; Back To The Future, And: Jimenez Named Guv's New Staff Chief 

Trial lawyers are climbing aboard the campaign of Dem congressional hopeful Patricia Madrid and familiar biz interests are fueling the drive to re-elect GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. That's the picture drawn from a scan of the latest federal money reports. Also, both candidates are working to get their most ardent supporters to "max out." That means giving the legal maximum of $4,200. That's $2,100 each for the primary and general elections. It appears Heather and Patsy each had about 15 such generous souls in the first quarter of the year.

At least six trial lawyers associated with the San Diego law firm of Lerach, Coughlin, etc., maxed out for Madrid. The firm was in the news here in 2004 when it worked for the state in a lawsuit against Microsoft. ABQ trial lawyer Margaret Moses Branch is another who has given Madrid all she can. Heather's "maxers" are mainly businesspersons like Joe Badal, prez of a mortgage company, Roswell oilman Mark Murphy and Joan Woodard, an exec at Sandia labs.

A contributor maxing out is a fundraiser's dream. It's expensive for the giver, but it does stop those nightmarish phone calls begging for more money.

The overall money race is falling along predictable lines, although Madrid is outpacing what Dem candidate Richard Romero did two years ago. However, remember that Heather is not standing still and will no doubt raise more money than the previous cycle. Patsy has $836,000 in the bank, compared to Heather's $1.43 million. As the campaign matures, that advantage should shrink but expect incumbent Heather to still outspend Patsy by a similar percent she outspent Romero. Heather has now raised a grand total of about $2 million to Patsy's $1.136 million

As for the campaign, some insider Dems are anxious for Madrid to start getting visible. They are not consoled by national polls showing the R's in deep trouble and warn of Romero's 02' campaign when he had hardly any visibility in the primary and went on to lose by nearly ten points. They think Madrid, as the underdog, will need a nearly nonstop effort to unseat the entrenched Wilson.

"If you look at some campaigns around the country, they are already up with radio or TV. It is not too early. Beating Heather is going to take much, much more than what Romero came with. Madrid should not wait," argued a seasoned Dem. Other aggressive Dems even argue for going up with media now and staying up until November.

Illinois congressman and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rahm Emanuel will stop in ABQ today to give Madrid some of that sought after visibility.

Since something on the order of 98 percent of the incumbent U.S. House members get re-elected, one can see where the urgency comes from. Also, national consultants have had two bites at this race (02' and 04') and their formulas have failed. Time for some thinking outside the box?

Madrid has shown us the money, now it may be time to start spending it.


It's been a long, long time (the late 70's) since then Governor Bruce King fired Big Bill from a staff position with the Democratic party. But old feelings apparently linger and at the recent dedication of a room honoring King at the University of New Mexico law Library, the current Guv made himself a bit scarce as described by one of our on-the-scene Alligators.

"Governor Richardson didn't mix with the King crowd. He asked that a private room be reserved for him. He stayed in it and came out when the event began. After an introduction by (UNM Regents Chairman) Jamie Koch, Bill gave an amusing speech honoring Bruce. Bill left immediately after his presentation. Jamie's introduction was ham fisted. He noted that the relationship between Bill and Bruce was not good and recalled that Bruce had fired Bill. Meeting organizers feel that Bill wanted a private room so he wouldn't have to mix with the King partisans present."

Maybe the Big Guy was uncomfortable considering Bruce's son, Gary, is seeking the Dem nomination for attorney general as is Geno Zamora, former legal counsel to the Guv. Some Zamora backers insist Bill is siding with their guy, while the King camp is equally insistent that the Guv is not playing favorites in the hotly contested race which also features prosecutor Lem Martinez.

I don't know if ex-Guv Toney Anaya was at the dedication. He might have wanted a separate room too, seeing how his son-in law, R Jim Bibb, is the GOP nominee for attorney general. Lifelong Dem Bruce had to roll his eyes when he first heard that one.

Staff Chief Jimenez
Score one for the Alligators. One of them predicted here that James Jimenez, secretary of the NM Department of Finance, would succeed Dave Contarino as the Guv's chief of staff now that Contarino is moving over to the campaign. Jimenez was named by the Guv to the position Monday.

And you can't say Big Bill has a tin ear when it comes to criticism leveled against him for planning to let Contarino draw a taxpayers paycheck for serving as chief one day a week and another from the campaign where he serves as chairman. The conflict of interest was obvious. Monday the Guv changed his mind saying he did not want the "issue to be a distraction" and decided that Contarino will still be able to work part-time on the Fourth Floor, but will get all his pay from the campaign. It's the right call, especially in light of the many state scandals Mr. & Mrs. New Mexico are suffering through.

Don't expect any shouting matches over policy between the Guv and Jimenez. "He is quietly competent and will carry out what the Governor wants him to," said a longtime Santa Fe fixture of the former Rio Rancho administrator.

Jimenez's replacement at Finance is Katherine Miller, who has been executive director of the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.

Thanks for the company today and for your e-mails with the latest political news, comments and corrections. Keep em' coming and we'll keep the politics coming.

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