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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Hits Continue: Heather Scored For Pay Raise Vote, And: Big Bill's Confounded Critics; A Blog Analysis 

Heather
There's a disconnect between ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson and NM's two other U.S. House members and it didn't take long for the national Dems to take advantage of it by putting up this radio ad. {PDF} Reps Udall and Pearce say they voted against taking their salaries up by 2 percent to $168,500 a year, but Heather's office claims the measure they are talking about was not in fact a vote for a pay raise.

"Some members claim, and the press buys it, that this is a procedural vote regarding congressional pay raise, but it is not," argued Heather's spokesman.

But Heather's fellow NM R, Rep. Steve Pearce, issued this statement after the vote (249-167) and permitted the cost of living adjustment.

"I have voted against congressional pay raises every time during my tenure in Congress. While I understand my colleagues' rationale in approving cost-of-living adjustments, I must differ from them on this issue. Too many Americans are struggling today." Declared Pearce of Hobbs.

That's the same point the Dem radio drives home, saying while congress folk get a $3300 a year pay raise, the minimum wage has not been raised for nearly a decade.

THE REAL THING


Our Thursday blog asserting that voters may sense a "scent of inauthenticity" around Heather because of her ongoing struggle to define herself as an "independent" voice brought several emails that saw it differently. Here's one of the more thoughtful.

"Occupying the middle of the road does not have a "scent of inauthenticity" for any member of Congress or Heather specifically. In fact, it seems more inauthentic to me for a political figure to constantly occupy the same old tired ideological spot. You have to wonder if they ever use their brains for original thoughts. I think Wilson is more authentic because she approaches problems and issues in a thoughtful way without regard to the party line."

PRESS YOU COULDN'T BUY

The Guv's press flacks could not have done a better job of painting a glowing picture of the Big Bill show. But this one comes not from paid staffers, but from international mag of note, The Economist. Besides complimenting the Guv's policies, the British publication does dole out a comment on Bill's Prez hopes.

"The problem (getting elected President) would be getting enough of the Anglo vote. As one ex-serviceman, a Mexican-American, put it in an Albuquerque bar: 'He's a Mexican, and they'll never elect a Mexican.' In the meantime, he has at least put New Mexico on the map." reports the magazine.

No, that was not John Dendahl who said that. What he does have to say can be found on his just launched Web site.

CONFOUNDING THE CRITICS


When it comes to campaigning, Big Bill has not changed much over the years. He relishes it, probably more than governing. And it appears he is having fun on the 06' trail. His latest TV spot is a comedy riff about there being a new sheriff in town, (a spot that aired inadvertently, but will be seen later in the campaign) and, he was yukking it up on the radio the other day, pointing out that the new Rail Runner train can go up to 80 MPH. "That's even faster than I go," wisecracked the chief exec known for speeding across the landscape.

The Guv's public face is much different than the one his foes paint, as a vindictive and power-obsessed politico. No doubt he has his moments, but on the trail he is jolly, engaging and in command. With over 25 years of campaigns under his belt, the Governor is now entering his peak years.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Yes, there is the constant drumbeat of news headlines highlighting enormous campaign contributions and whether they are in exchange for public policy positions. The critics are confounded on why this has not inflicted severe damage on Big Bill. But Governor Johnson received hundreds of thousands from Indian tribes and President Bush and Senators Domenici and Bingaman have also been awash in millions in campaign cash, all the while casting votes or deciding matters that impact the industries they take money from.

While raising ethical issues, these contributions are legal. The guess from this corner is that most voters are hesitant to signal out any one politician for punishment when the flawed system allows everyone to take part.

If the so-called "pay to play" issue remains largely a nonstarter, Big Bill will continue his Happy Days Are Here Again" campaign unperturbed. That may be an old tune, but it's still a listener favorite.

Thanks for the company today. Let's visit again tomorrow.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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