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Monday, September 11, 2006

Big Bill's First Campaign Week; Nearly a Clean Sweep; (Except For Jeff), Plus: Bloggin' With Valerie Plame On A New Mexico Monday 

Guv & Salopek
You can argue, and his critics do, that Big Bill is a better campaigner than Governor, but right now this is a campaign and the first official week of it demonstrated why in New Mexico Richardson is in a class by himself. Like him or not, there is no denying this is a politician who takes advantage of every opportunity.

First he receives a call from the wife of a Chicago Tribune journalist being detained in the strife-torn African nation of Sudan. He hops on the jet, springs Paul Salopek and deposits him safely back in Columbus, NM where the scribe makes his home when not finding peril in international hot spots.

Salopek was lucky. A Sudanese journalist recently had his head cut off.

If the critics cried that this had nothing to do with New Mexico, or joked that "it takes a dictator to understand a dictator, the Governor had something for them too. He announced that flood aid the Feds previously denied for our stricken neighbors in the Alamogordo area has been freed up and will be granted after all. (Senator Pete shared the credit.)

And what was GOP Guv hopeful John Dendahl doing during the first week of Campaign 06? He was issuing a humble apology to NM school teachers for an earlier faux paux that had him equating their teaching methods with "socialism." Insiders say his staff is busy just trying to take care of the "organizational details" of a statewide campaign that has the disadvantage of not beginning until mid-June. Joltin' John may yet get his big week, but this past one wasn't it.

What most impressed political strategists about Big Bill's first week sweep was its unplanned nature. No one knew he was going to be be called upon to rescue the stranded journalist and no one knew there was going to be historic flooding in SE NM. But he tackled both and he delivered. And don't think voters didn't notice.

REMEMBER PEACE?

Unlike previous international missions where Richardson has freed Americans form the grips of dictatorial regimes, this one rippled more strongly across the national stage that he hopes to occupy as an 08' presidential candidate. There he was sitting down with a Muslim leader and successfully negotiating against the backdrop of our gridlocked foreign policy that has the nation stymied in Iraq and unable to get either North Korea or Iran to come to their senses on nukes.

Not that the situations are anywhere equal, but negotiating to bring order to the chaotic world the nation faces has been way out-of-style since 9/11--the fifth anniversary of which is being commemorated today. (The brilliant writer Peggy Noonan has more on that.) Richardson produced a glimpse back into the past, and hopefully the future, when diplomats worked furiously to put fires out at the talking table before the first shots were fired.

Maybe the glass-is-half-full crowd has it wrong, but the Governor's mission raised hopes that the so-called "War on Terror" does not have to last the rest of our lifetimes or those of our children. There is an alternative and it is not appeasement. It is negotiating. The result could be peace. Remember that?

JEFF AND THE JUDGE
Judge Rivera
The first week of Campaign 06' would have been a clean sweep for the Guv, if not for the pesky matter of Jeff Armijo. Removing the Dem state auditor candidate from the scene is proving more difficult for the Guv than negotiating with the strong-arm set. Tuesday Jeff goes before ABQ District Court Judge Geraldine Rivera to argue that his name should be kept on the ballot. Saturday the D's Central Committee named State Rep. Hector Balderas to the slot in anticipation of Jeff losing his court battle. But Armijo, who is being called on by Big Bill to get out because he is charged with sexual misconduct by two young women, has hung tough, raising D concerns that he could stay on the ballot and taint Big Bill and the Dem ticket, not to mention paving the way for R Lorenzo Garcia to win the auditor's job.

Legal insiders said Armijo got the luck of the draw Friday when he filed his lawsuit, arguing that his withdrawal from the race was not a legal notification. They point out that Judge Rivera, who was assigned the case, is a Republican with a reputation for being independent. But even if Jeff wins there, the case appears headed to the all-Dem NM Supreme Court where the justices will wrestle with the question of whether a news release Jeff issued legally got him out of the race. It's a first of it's kind case and everyone is anxiously awaiting the rulings from judge Rivera and the Supremes, whether they are for or against the intrepid Armijo.

PLAME FLAME LIGHTS ABQ


My choice this weekend was to go see the guy who could be the GOP 08' Prez candidate, or meet the most famous outed CIA "spy" in recent history. I had already met Arizona Sen. John McCain back in 84' when he was in the U.S. House, so I opted to chat up Valerie Plame at a political house party hosted by the irrepressible Mikey Weinstein, an ABQ attorney who is battling the Air Force over the role of religion at the Air Force Academy.

Valerie is at the center of one of the most famous inside-the-beltway" stories" ever. Her CIA cover was illegaly blown after her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, broke with the Bush administration over the pre-war intelligence over the Iraq war. That set off a frenzy on the banks of the Potomac. Here in Albuquerque, things were much more placid for the couple who are on the board of the group Weinstein has formed to carry his cause.

Wilson referred to himself as "Mr. Valerie Plame," taking note of her fame, which has been abetted by her photogenic looks. Agreeing with the ambassador, we cropped him out of the photo. I am sure the McCain event went well, but I don't think it would have furthered my James Bond fantasy as much as Valerie did.

BOTTOM LINES

A reminder to all the campaigns of the importance of reaching the key voting group this year--folks over the age of 45. The place to do that for statewide and Bernalillo county candidates is KKJY 1550 AM and 1600 AM "Real Oldies" radio, which is offering special ad rates this election season to reach thousands of voters in this vital voting group. The stations are locally owned by veteran radio maven Don Davis and will take good care of you. Find out more by clicking thru the ad, and then make sure to set aside some of your ad budget for K-Joy and Real Oldies radio.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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