Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The Final Stretch: Two Weeks To Grab Glory, Plus: A Preview Of Tonight's Heather-Patsy Showdown, And: Even More Politics From The Home Of Campaign 06'
Maximum pressure is now on the candidates in competitive races as we reach the two-weeks-to-go milestone of Campaign 06'. The final stretch will have the contenders crisscrossing our Enchanted Land looking to sway voters of all stripes. It's tiring work, even for a 33 year old like Dem state auditor candidate Hector Balderas who is pictured here catnapping in a photo taken by Dem land commissioner candidate Jim Baca. A group of Dems this weekend did a bus tour of southern NM starting in Ruidoso, on to Alamogordo then to Las Cruces for the Aggie Homecoming Parade. The tour ended in Deming with Balderas, we presume, well-rested.
The traveling may be the most exhausting part of the campaign, but it also is the most exhilarating. Makes me want to get out there with pen and pad and microphone again. I just might in the final days.
Speaking of the auditors race, the R's are throwing their candidate's many qualifications in the face of Balderas. They say Big Bill's "Task Force on Ethics" seems to back R Lorenzo Garcia, since the report states: "The Task Force recommends that the state auditor have certain minimum qualifications. For instance, the state auditor could be required to be a certified public accountant..." Lorenzo is a CPA with lengthy government experience.
The key words are "could be required." But it's not as though Hector is a country rube. He does have a law degree, is a practicing attorney and served a term in the Legislature. This race could be a tough pick for voters who carefully examine each candidate. But many will vote their party, not the individual, and that will favor the Dem.
THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
The most anticipated media event of the campaign takes place tonight at 7 p.m. on KOB-TV when Heather Wilson and Patricia Madrid meet face-to-face for the first and only time in a live televised debate. I have the insider details.
The "debate," more like a question and answer session, will take place before a live audience made up of 100 supporters from each of the congressional hopefuls camps. It will take place at the ABQ UNM Continuing Education Center and be uninterrupted by commercials.
Dem Madrid and R incumbent Wilson will get a chance to ask each other questions--two of them each--and will have one minute to answer and 45 seconds for rebuttal. All other questions will be posed by veteran KOB-TV anchors Tom Joles and Carla Aragon. Also, the debate will be simulcast on 770 KKOB-AM radio.
Each candidate will make a one minute opening statement and a closing one as well.
Does this format favor a particular candidate? The time limit on answers--one minute--might be best for Madrid who has the least debate experience of the pair and whose job tonight is not to make any major mistakes. She leads in all the polls. Wilson will try to force the error, but with the one minute response limit a candidate can avoid answering even more than they usually do.
I look for measured responses from Attorney General Madrid and challenging rhetoric from Rep. Wilson who needs to make a move. One question hangs in the air: Will the incumbent in any way change the way she approaches the unpopular Iraq war? Several Republicans have recently, but any shading of her position is fraught with peril as it would be attacked by the Dems as an election ploy. Still, if Wilson and her advisers see this race as unlikely to close enough by Nov. 7, they could opt for a dramatic move.
C-SPAN plans on airing the debate nationally sometime before the election.
No surprises in the endorsements of the major newspapers in the Patsy-Heather contest. The ABQ Journal, as it always has, endorsed Heather and the ABQ Tribune, as expected, went for Patsy. For the Trib it is all about Iraq. The Journal tried to frame it as a local race.
My "editorial" opinion? Sometimes, politics isn't local. When young American and
New Mexican men and women are fighting and dying and being wounded by the thousands, that is the issue. Agree or disagree with your respective candidate, history will emphatically record the war as the issue of 06'. It was the same in 1968 with Vietnam and this is no different.
CONSPIRACY OR LAZY VOTERS?
Several readers, including Santa Fe's Lorene Mills, sent along this article about the 04' Prez election in NM and whether all the votes were truly counted. It is a controversial piece, but it's central concern has been addressed. Ours is now one of the few states in the nation with an all-paper ballot system with a verifiable trail. If that doesn't stop the conspiracy theories, what will?
GREEN WITH A GRIMACE
One of the biggest complaints about this election is the lack of competition, not only in contested races at the top of the ballot, but races across the board. Carol Miller, a onetime candidate for Congress for the Green Party, chimes in on this from Rio Arriba county.
"This election is on the verge of turning even me into a former voter. Part of it is being a Rio Arriba voter where all local races are unopposed. Add some very uncompetitive races; 3rd CD, US Senate--no Independents and no Greens or Libertarians to vote FOR and I am seriously thinking of sitting this one out. This really shouldn't be what democracy feels like?
No, it isn't Carol. But the state's minority party is in bad need of leadership and the Green party is basically moribund (except for PRC candidate David Bacon.) This leaves the playing field largely to the Dems. One party control of government--D's or R's--inevitably leads to corruption and abuse. The examples abound.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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