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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pete & The "Politically Unthinkable;" High Oil Prices Necessary? Plus: His Re-Election Bid, And: Iraq War Makes NM Campaign Debut 

Pete has gone provocative. NM's senior senator, in a little noticed write-up in the magazine Congressional Quarterly offers up the possibly perilous proposition that high oil prices for a long period of time is actually a good thing. Here are the money lines.

Lawmakers have been fretting about high energy prices, but now a key Republican senator says the possibility of a collapse in prices may pose a bigger obstacle to achieving energy independence.

Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici said high oil and gas prices spur innovations and investments that will help wean Americans off imported oil. Fear of a reversal in soaring oil prices, he added, is a primary factor in scaring investors from pouring money into advanced energy technologies.

Domenici then went on to voice the politically unthinkable — suggesting that a “very, very interesting proposition” would be to set a price floor that would prevent a precipitous drop in crude prices from disrupting progress toward alternative energy sources."


In freewheeling, free-driving New Mexico, the prospect of eternally high gas prices is sure to be greeted with thumbs down, but Domenici has thrown out on the table an idea that could grow legs as pressure increases to wean ourselves from the Middle East oil fields.

HOW FAR IS HE IN?

Speaking of Pete, only a politician with his high approval ratings could wonder aloud about keeping gas prices high. But what of his 08' reelection bid? Is it a sure thing? He has announced in a fundraising letter that he is running, but political pros caution that a final, final decision could still be up in the air, and that we shouldn't definitely count him in until the end of 07.' Meanwhile, Pete has cleared the field and if he decides late in the game against a run, there won't be too many candidates with enough name ID and financial resources to take advantage of it.

WAR GAMES
Wilson & Prez
You knew it was coming. And it's here. The no-end-in-sight Iraq War comes front and center in Dem Patricia Madrid's latest attack ad against ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. "Heather Wilson is on the Intelligence Committee but she never questioned George Bush on the war. That's not independence," reads the script.

The spot also faults Heather for missing a vote on setting a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq so she could attend an ABQ June fundraiser with the Prez. The ad does not mention that it was an anti-withdrawal resolution supporting the President's war policy and which Wilson spoke in favor of before departing for ABQ. Still, the ad forces voters to consider the incumbent's role in the unpopular war and is sure to be a centerpiece issue as we enter the fall stretch. The ad works well for Madrid because she does not get into her own position favoring withdrawal, which could alienate some voters, but focuses squarely on her opponent's ties to and support of the low-polling President.

The campaign thus far has been somewhat annoying. Yes, the ethics of both candidates is important, but there are far more important issues facing the nation at this critical juncture. A spirited debate over Iraq is long overdue and it promises to be a debate that engages the electorate much more than the incessant chiding over who is the bigger crook.

RISING STAR, BUT NOT A HIGH ONE

A Gay Republican who supports decriminalizing marijuana. How's that for an eye-catching resume? It belongs to NM operative Patrick Killen and recently caught the eye of Campaign and Elections magazine which recently named the 26 year old one of its Rising Stars."

Killen is currently out of the state working on a Nevada initiative to lighten up on marijuana laws, but plans to return here. He previously worked as the campaign manger for John Dendahl's run for NM party chair and also helped lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett in his political endeavors, as well as 02' R Guv nominee John Sanchez.

For the record, Killen says he does not smoke marijuana, not that there's anything wrong with that, he adds. While Killen has been named a rising star of the future, his past crusade with GOP Guv Gary for lighter drug laws has fizzled. 06' GOP Guv Nominee Dendahl has rejected running on the issue.

MY BOTTOM LINES


Big Bill's new TV spot is an interesting melding of the Internet and the Tube...R AG Candidate Jim Bibb is now posting his TV ad on his Web site. He has raised about $175,000 for his campaign...NM GOP Treasurer candidate Demesia Padilla is off and running and has put up her new Web site this week...ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez is taking a page from the Big Bill playbook and starting office hours for the public. The meetings will take place on the last Friday of the month at 2 p.m. The mayor says to "bring a form of ID." Guess all those Rio Rancho folks who want to sneak in and give him a hard time won't be able to.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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