Monday, September 18, 2006
No Homers, But A Few Hits As Heather & Patsy Do Their First Face-To-Face; We Have The Action, Plus: For Some, Election Day is Tomorrow
Wilson & Madrid Debate
There were four hundred souls in the room for the first, highly-anticipated debate in the showdown for the ABQ congressional seat, but it was the thousands who watched the reviews on television who have the most say and what they saw were two candidates sticking mainly to tightly controlled scripts that more or less mimicked their ever-present 30 second TV spots.
The thunder over Dem hopeful Patricia Madrid's refusal to do more than one live TV debate (KOB-TV Oct. 24) will probably quiet down in light of the Congregation Albert square-off Sunday morning. After all, what's the difference between a pre-recorded 30 second spot and the 60 second spots delivered by the duo in real time before a studio audience?
Still, the event provided glimpses of the contrasting styles between the pair. Not that there was much. Both made a point of being forceful and speaking firmly. Both were decked out in their Ann Taylor business-best (Heather yellow and white; Patsy in black with a dash of yellow) and both landed their scripted jabs on Iraq and ethics at the appointed times.
There was the sideshow of the Madrid camp issuing a news release immediately after the confrontation trumpeting that their gal had decisively won the contest. (Neither did.) This from the side that refused to let the Sunday morning festivities be televised and has agreed to just the one live TV meeting. But one could forgive their enthusiasm, given Heather's record of easily dispatching her opponents in the debate format. But Madrid is not any opponent. Like Heather, she is a tough cookie and did what she had to do-- not commit the big error.
Heather also jumped the line, saying Madrid favors an "immediate" withdrawal of troops in Iraq, even though Madrid has never advocated that.
A REVEALING MOMENT
In a moment that told us more about where this campaign stands than any other, Heather trotted out the race card, saying the controversial Reverend Al Sharpton is coming to ABQ for an event with the black community.
"Sharpton is a racist, anti-Semitic, rabble rouser. So what I want to know is why doesn't it bother you to stand next to him when he endorses your candidacy for the Congress?" Wilson demanded of Madrid.
Madrid responded: "I will stand by any black member of this state...I intend to go to Washington to try and do right by them which is better than you've done, Ms. Wilson."
Madrid went on to say she was not aware that Sharpton was going to be involved in the campaign. Sharpton will be in ABQ September 30, but the newspapers are reporting that he has not been invited in regard to the 1st CD race.
Several Alligators, using their Tivo's to record all TV debate coverage, said they saw the Wilson race play as a sign that she was not just trying to garner some Jewish votes, but a sign that she is concerned that her Anglo Republican base is not sufficiently enthused with only weeks to go before the first votes are cast.
Overt racial politicking is a rarity in New Mexico. Madrid, to her detriment, stepped into it in her 94' bid for lieutenant governor. One wonders if this is a prelude of more of it to come. Wilson may want her consultants to tread carefully before going further into that thicket.
DEBATE BOTTOM LINES
Both Wilson and Madrid were strong on their war presentations, with Heather polished and informed and Madrid turning on the moral indignation that one would expect.
The omnipresent ethics issue got the once over as well, but TV coverage largely ignored it, perhaps to the challengers benefit, as any issue that
isn't ethics seems to cut the Dems way.
No knockout was expected and none was delivered. The electorate, last polled at 45% to 42% with Heather leading, seems largely locked down and only a small group of undecided still to be heard from. It's unlikely Sunday's debate changed that and that this fierce contest will be decided on who gets their vote out. Of course, we offer the usual caveat: "Unless something unexpected happens." Sunday was not that day, but there's still about 50 left. Stay tuned.
ELECTION DAY IS TOMORROW?
Election Day is tomorrow for voters in the state's largest city. The Albuquerque Public Schools is asking for a five percent increase in property taxes to build two new high schools on the city's booming West Side and fix up a bunch of others. The $351 million bond issue is being pushed by proponents as "for the kids."
While the bond issue is expected to pass handily, not everyone is buying in. That nearly extinct species known as the "New Mexico Fiscal Conservative," nearly drowned in recent years by an orgy of spending on the state and local level, has surfaced to oppose the tax hike. We bring you the comments of the Rio Grande Foundation because if there's anything we don't like it is near unanimity on any election issue. True, it is about the kids, but it's also about the money. You decide. Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thanks to photog Mark Bralley for the cool debate candids of Heather and Patsy gracing today's edition, and thanks to you for stopping by today.
c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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