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Monday, October 02, 2006

Big Bill: He Keeps Getting Bigger; Hits 60% In Poll, And: Heather's Lost Weekend; From Bad To Worse, Plus: A Red Meat Brunch With The Alligators 

The Guv
Big Bill. He just keeps getting bigger, and if you're a forlorn R, maybe badder, too. The Guv has now hit the magic 60% re-elect number in the ABQ Journal poll as his GOP foe John Dendahl remains stuck in the mud at a meager 28%. (MOE +-3.7%) This isn't a race; it's a rout. And there's not much sympathy being expressed for the underdog who pledged a more aggressive campaign than that of J.R. Damron who was dumped from the ticket following the June primary for the alleged sin of not doing enough Bill bashing. But Dendahl is doing worse than anyone imagined J.R. doing, not growing even one point since the Journal's first survey in late August. The base Republican vote is in the mid-30 range and Dendahl, with just a month to go, has yet to even nail that down.

It's no surprise. His campaign has had no media presence, and the free media he earned was all wrong, with statements that offended Hispanics and school teachers. The recovery from foot-in-mouth disease has been slow and painful to watch. Combine that with the division over John in his own party and you have a recipe for Richardson to hit 60%, even in a state filled with as many conservative voters as ours.

The plot, or whatever you want to call it, to dump Damron and replace him with ex- party chairman Dendahl is looking like one of the great mistakes in the history of our storied La Politica, something that we will be talking about for years, certainly more than we will ever talk about the non-existent Guv campaign of 2006.

The silver lining in this cloud is that sometime you have to burn the village to save it. If the R's are swept away we may finally get some leadership that can purge and then unify the old elephant and restore a competitive two party system to the state.

A HELL OF A WEEKEND

Where should we start when it comes to describing Heather's hellish weekend? The Journal poll showing the ABQ GOP congresswoman in a dead heat with Dem foe Patricia Madrid? The guilty verdict against ex-Treasurer Robert Vigil, who has become Heather's poster boy for her allegations that Madrid has not been tough enough on ethics? How about the fact that she has to return $8,000 in campaign contributions from the Florida congressman who was hitting on a 16 year old male page and resigned Friday. Or maybe we should begin with the strange ABQ visit of Karl Rove, the Presidents chief political adviser who was here Saturday and acted like an undercover agent, not seen or quoted by any media, but meeting in unannounced locations. He did evade the protesters, but not the politicos, who see Karl's "cut and run" as a better indicator than any poll on how the R's are doing this cycle.

Maybe we can kick the weekend review off with the ABQ comments of the Rev. Al Sharpton who Heather dubbed a "rabble rouser and anti-Semite" in her September debate with Madrid and wondered if Madrid would reject an endorsement of her candidacy by Sharpton, even though none had been offered. Sharpton, sharp-tongued as ever, had a response for Wilson when he touched down in River City Saturday for a meeting with African American activists:

"Why denounce Democrats when you can ask your own Republican leaders--Bush and Karl Rove--why they stood next to me at the Voters Rights Act signing at the White House this summer. I was invited to the White House and acknowledged by them, now I await sister Wilson to denounce them, too." He declared.

"Sister Wilson?" As the kids say, payback is a bitch. And how was your weekend?

THE GATOR BRUNCH

There's been so much going on that we had to convene a special in-person session with the Alligators. Appropriately enough, we met where there is plenty of red meat--at Jerry Wright's Great American Cattle Company where, again appropriately, we ordered rare USDA T-bones to put us in the mood to discuss that Wilson-Madrid poll. Jerry wasn't around to comp us, so Steve Cabiedes and I nominated Republican and heavy-hitting lobbyist Bruce Donisthorpe for the honor. Pollster Harry Pavlides preferred to stay at his place, chain-smoking Marlboro's and comparing his poll to that of the Journal's Sanderoff. He joined us by conference call, pointing out that he had Madrid at 46.6% and Wilson at 45.6%, prior to the Journal dead heat survey.

JUST THE MEAT, PLEASE

Cabiedes, a former Green Party activist, now an independent (He'll work for the party that pays best.) has aggressively predicted where we are today and now he's getting more aggressive, saying "the race may be Madrid's to lose."

"Among the few undecided voters, there are many Hispanics and Dems. They have begun to break Madrid's way. As things stand today, the odds actually favor a Madrid victory. I think something big has to happen to shake it up for Heather. If it doesn't, as I said last month, she will need an all-out field campaign to get her vote out."

Republican Donisthorpe was nowhere near ready to throw in the towel, although he had a nice pristine one next to his hanging-over-the-platter T-Bone. Instead, he acknowledged that "we are in uncharted territory. We've never been here before. There is plenty of time for both sides to make a mistake, but the most likely determining factor is who is able to turn their vote out."

He also pointed out that millions of dollars will now be poured into each campaign. Will the R's have their traditional financial edge? He wondered. If so, that could also be a factor in the final critical days.

THE NEW HEATHER?

Cabiedes says Heather needs to find a new issue mix. "What is out there for her? Iraq and Bush do not work. What we got was a stem cell ad to show she is independent of the President. It was weak. And how about some positive ads, for Heather? I think the negative campaign may have gone too far and could be hurting her. She may have some more stuff on Patsy and will go negative with it, but it's not guaranteed to stick. She is going to have to be very careful now about a vote backlash."

Bruce feels the ethics attacks on Madrid are played out and he also says a new field needs to be plowed. "I wouldn't be surprised to see Heather go after some of Patsy's previous controversial statements. The Vigil guilty verdict may force her to reassess the ads on that subject," said Bruce as he sliced a healthy wedge of prime beef.

Dem Pollster Pavlides says Madrid is in good shape going into the final weeks, but will need to rally the base in the final days. "This election is about Democrats coming home to vote against Bush and Wilson. I think a visit by President Clinton would excite those voters. As for Heather: "She needs to stay on the attack, but I agree with Steve that she needs to be careful. You don't know when something is going to backfire."

Now that's what I call a meaty Sunday brunch.

MY BOTTOM LINES

When Big Bill last week said "my get out the vote operation" will put Madrid over the top, not all of the attorney general's supporters were jumping with joy. They said the statement ignored the intensive campaign they are mounting. One of them also took a mild jab at the Big Guy: "Patricia knows the Governor will be helping her a lot, but she is still supporting John Edwards for the presidential nomination...Ex-Treasurer Robert Vigil was found not guilty on 23 of 24 corruption charges at his retrial Saturday. His first trial ended in a hung jury. What happened? State House Majority Leader Ken Martinez thinks the feds overplayed their hand. He would appear to have a point. AG Madrid has charged key figures in the case with state charges. Will she have better luck, or is this a case not ready for primetime?

Speaking of primetime, GOP secretary of state candidate Vickie Perea has booked a $90,000 TV buy with all that money national R's have been raising for her...She also has a good sign presence up in the South Valley of ABQ...The ABQ Tribune's Kate Nash also reports Vickie's Dem rival, Mary Herrera, has not yet booked any airtime...R AG candidate Jim Bibb is up with an $185,000 buy. His Dem foe Gary King is over the $225,000 mark...

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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