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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dendahl's Political Midwives; Lobbyist Barnett, Sen. Domenici & Operative Bell Aided Birth Of Candidacy; Newspaper Report Confirms Our Sources' Take 

Add another name to the list of political midwives who helped give birth to the GOP Governor candidacy of ex-party chair John Dendahl. It turns out that lawyer-lobbyist and former GOP National Committeeman Mickey Barnett played a key role in getting J.R. Damron out and Dendahl in. Also, our Monday blog quoting top political sources saying NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici and his chief political operative Steve Bell were at the bedside as the Dendahl bid was born has now been backed up with on the record confirmation.

The surfacing of Barnett came from the Santa Fe New Mexican and veteran political reporter Steve Terrell who also had Dendahl confirming that Domenici and Bell were in communication with him, as well as party chair Allen Weh and Barnett in the critical hours leading to the first appointed major party nominee for Governor in state history.

Chairman Weh, commenting on any Domenici-Bell involvement, issued a statement Tuesday saying your blogger "would make a good novelist," but as you will read in the money paragraphs from Terrell this is no "Da Vinci Code" we've been reporting, but the "Domenici Code." Here we go...

DATELINE: SANTA FE

From the New Mexican


"On Wednesday morning, Dendahl called (Damron) to talk about the possibility of Damron stepping aside for a more aggressive candidate to take on Richardson.

That conversation resulted in an Albuquerque meeting that afternoon. Present were Damron and his wife, Barbara Damron, Dendahl, state Republican chairman Allen Weh, party executive director Marta Kramer and former Republican National Committeeman Mickey Barnett, a longtime Dendahl ally.

..Dendahl on Monday said he had been hearing talk among Republicans in recent weeks about the possibility of Damron withdrawing. He said Barnett had called him recently saying there was a "groundswell of support" to field a new candidate--someone like Dendahl.

Last Tuesday, Dendahl said, he got a call from U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici's chief of staff, Steve Bell, who said Barnett and Domenici had discussed replacing Damron with Dendahl. Bell told Dendahl that Domenici liked the idea.

President Bush earlier this year nominated Barnett to be a governor of the U.S. Postal Service. Domenici is sponsoring Barnett in the Senate, which must approve the nomination.

Like Dendahl, Barnett has made enemies inside the GOP. He was defeated in 2004 for re-election to his National Committee post by state Rep. George Buffett. Barnett is a lawyer and former state senator who in recent years has worked as a lobbyist. He angered some Republicans when he lobbied for drug-law reforms pushed by former Gov. Gary Johnson." So reported the New Mexican.

The paper also quoted your blogger as saying "Dendahl is not going to win." Let me revise that to "he is not likely to win," but every candidate has a chance at victory.

THE POSTSCRIPT

Did Domenici-Bell initiate the push to replace Damron and use Barnett as their go-between? My top sources say yes and they supplied their motives for the move on Monday's blog. The newspaper report points firmly in that direction. You decide.

Let's be clear to the political community of New Mexico and Washington, D.C.; major events rarely, if ever, happen in the NM Republican Party without the involvement and/or consent of the titular head of that organization--Senator Domenici. That's not a narrative for a "novel." That's the cold, hard facts. If you don't believe it, check with my fellow "novelist" Steve Terrell.

THE BOTTOM LINES

In this over 200 year old game for the right to rule, the public sets the rules and they say all the chips should be on the table. Governors, wanna-be Governors, U.S. Senators and party operatives are not exempt. Sure, they can try to conceal the chips, but in the end this high-stakes poker game for power and control of the United States and New Mexican governments is a game that will inevitably be played under the bright stage lights of La Politica. May it ever be so...And ABQ Tribune reporter Casey Phillips, fresh off the bus from Tennessee, could not have picked a better time to start covering NM politics. We helped out with Phillips' first piece on the 06' Guv race.

Have news? Comments? Criticisms? Drop me an e-mail from the link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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