Thursday, May 04, 2006

D.C. Power Play: Heather Helped By Chairman She Crossed; Sponsors Anti-Gouging Bill; Earns Nat'l Press, Plus: Breakaway GOP Group Loses At High Court 

If the ship goes down there will be no survivors. That's the moral of the Movida that unfolded on Capitol Hill Wednesday and vaulted ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson into the national headlines. The House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman, Rep. Joe Barton (TX), who just two years tried to have Heather thrown off his panel, closed ranks behind her. Barton let Heather be the chief sponsor of an anti-gouging bill on gas prices, delivering a coup for her in her hotly contested Congressional race with NM Dem Attorney General Patricia Madrid.

An Alligator with D.C. experience, but on the ground in NM, bottom lined it. "If the House goes to the D's, there will be no Republican committee chairmen. As they say, politics makes for strange bedfellows. With his power ultimately on the line in November, Barton saw the wisdom of helping Heather, despite her past wayward ways."

Wilson introduced the anti-gouging bill just days ago. It was fast-tracked by Republican leaders who continue to shudder under the threat of a voter rebellion at the ballot boxes. The measure passed overwhelmingly. The Senate still has to agree.

It was in 2004 that Chairman Barton threatened to toss Wilson to the wind when she broke ranks over the Medicare prescription drug bill, demanding that more information on the costs of the program which was ultimately approved by the Congress.

The Hill newspaper supplies more details on the Heather-Barton reunion.

As for Madrid, it was the second time this year she had to stand by while Heather burst onto the national scene as she pulls out all the stops to position herself as an "independent Republican." In February she split with the Prez over the Administration's surveillance of American citizens, news that was flashed nationwide.

Doing what they could, the Madrid campaign lashed out at the Wilson-Barton Movida calling it an "obvious political ploy" and said in the past Heather voted three times against anti-gouging legislation. They also said she has picked up $800,000 in energy campaign money since going to the Hill in 98.' Madrid does have a hole card. If gas prices continue to soar, Wilson may need more than an anti-gouging bill for cover.

But it was the power of the majority party and their now stark fear of losing that power that was on full display Wednesday. With the future of the American government on the line, the R's fired a cannon over the bow of New Mexico Democrats signaling that their leaky ship is still sail-worthy and not going down without a fight.


That breakaway faction of the NM GOP, so active in Republican primaries two years ago, has concentrated its 06' efforts in southeastern NM, but Wednesday the NM Supreme Court handed them a defeat. The court ruled that Lucy Tucker will be allowed on the June primary ballot to challenge GOP State Rep. Keith Gardner. Gardner's lawyer is lobbyist Mickey Barnett who spearheaded the primarying of fellow Republicans in 04'.

Gardner ousted GOP State Rep. Earlene Roberts two years ago in a bitter primary battle. Roberts is now helping Tucker. The breakaway faction also includes Roswell's State Senator Rod Adair and State Rep. Dan Foley. Ex-GOP Chair John Dendahl is also aligned with the faction.

Foley escaped a primary challenge when Steven Gavi did not file proper petitions. Gavi will run as a write-in candidate against Foley in the general. Tucker and Gavi are renewing charges that Barnett and Adair are more interested in their private business interests and candidates who can help them, rather than the interests of the GOP.

Gardner is favored to win over Tucker, but the faction is in a much tougher fight with Mike Kakuska who is seeking the GOP nomination for a Roswell House seat against Nora Espinoza who has served as Adair's Legislative secretary. The seat is being vacated by Avon Wilson.


The oil industry was quick to react to a blog hit delivered against them Wednesday by Dem land commissioner hopeful Jim Baca who pledged not to take "a single penny" in campaign money from Big Oil. Firing back, an industry higher-up e-mailed this entertaining volley.

"The real story is that Baca is not getting any money from big, little or medium size oil. He has in the past and continues to this day to whine and whine about our industry and has catered to anti-development groups. His life cycle goes like this. When he was born he was a NIMBY; Not in my back yard. As he grew up he became a BANANA; Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything; then he became a CAVE; citizens against virtually everything."

Of course, liberal enviro Baca will wear that oil and gas attack as a badge of honor. He also responded to my tongue-in-cheek joshing that he lost an animal protection group endorsement to primary foe Ray Powell because he complained that his pet, "Jerry the Cat," was not sufficient company when his wife was away.

"I love my cat. And my two beagles." He responded. Which brings to mind that old saw, slightly revised, "If you want a friend in politics, get a dog." Or, in Baca's case, a cat and two Beagles.

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