Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Details in McKenzie Beating Mystery, And: Guv Less Cocky Over Cockfighting, Plus: Death Calls Longtime NM Congress Staffer & Even More NM Politics 

The crime has shocked the state's political community. Paige McKenzie, 41, spokesperson for R Guv candidate John Dendahl, was struck in the face with a tire iron and savagely beaten Wednesday night after a flat tire sidelined her in the town of Bernalillo. Who would do such a thing? A reliable source reports that the assailant was not a personal acquaintance of McKenzie's, but offered his assistance when she pulled over with her flat tire.

"The motive of the man attacking her was assault; he attempted an assault. He saw an opportunity when he spotted her changing her tire in the bank parking lot. There was resistance and then Paige was brutally attacked with a tire iron. There was confusion in the first reports that indicated Paige may have known the person, but she says she had no prior relationship with him." Said our source.

According to Dendahl, Paige suffered broken cheekbones and a broken chin. She had several teeth knocked out and her jaw had to be wired shut.

Bernalillo and State Police are seeking the perpetrator who is described as an Hispanic male in his late 20's, about 5-foot-10, weighing 175 to 180 pounds and clean shaven.

The horrific assault had McKenzie's parents flying here from Florida to comfort their daughter. McKenzie, who has worked for the state GOP and Congresswoman Heather Wilson and legislative Republicans, is making gradual improvement with her condition now listed as satisfactory. She was listed in critical condition at UNM hospital in ABQ in the hours after the assault.


Cockfighting has been as sharp a thorn in Big Blll's side as those spurs the roosters use to cut each other up. He may finally have had enough. At a recent meeting with the editorial board oF the Las Cruces Sun-News, the Guv indicated he may come out against the controversial sport when he kicks off the 2007 Legislature.

Big Bill has straddled the issue of cockfighting which has appeal in rural parts of the state. But his position, or nonposition, has irked animal rights groups and others who could make their influence strongly felt if and when Big Bill takes to the presidential campaign trail. Several celebrities have lobbied him to push for a statewide ban on cockfighting, including former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, Rue McClanahan of The Golden Girls and comedian Bill Maher.

If he does get aboard the anti-cockfighting bandwagon, he will be one of the last passengers, but it will likely be finally enough to win a ban from the Legislature and a nice, flashy ceremony of the Guv signaling to national Dems a newfound dislike for the blood sport.


Believe it or not, voting in Campaign 06' gets underway today. NM voters can go to their county clerk's office to cast their ballots. Also, thousands of voters who have requested absentee ballots will have them mailed to them today. (Over 13,000 in Bernalillo county.) Early in-person voting at satellite locations will begin October 21.

How much of the vote will be cast early? We've gone past 50% in past elections. We may hit nearly 60% this time. And what should we watch for? Probably for any decline in Republican enthusiasm. The clerks' offices will track how many early votes are being cast by each party, giving us a clue of which party's voters are the most excited.


We kicked the can around with ex-GOP State Rep. Greg Payne and top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland on 770 KKOB-AM radio Monday morning. Both of the pros lamented the lack of competitiveness in the top state races and speculated on what a rout, if it happens, will mean for the future leadership of the state GOP.

"They have basically laid down," Said Scanland of the GOP. Payne said the party has lost touch with the "grass roots" and wondered what happened to "fiscal conservatism" as a campaign theme.

Scanland said keep your eye on the Dist. 15 State House race in ABQ where GOP incumbent Teresa Zanetti is facing a challenge from Traci Jo Cadigan. The district favors the R, Scanland said, as Zanetti has proven with two consecutive wins. But Cadigan is knocking on doors, a must for a challenger. Overall, Scanland looks for the R's perhaps picking up one seat in the House or Election night ending in a "wash" with the 42-28 Democratic majority staying right where it is. But if polls predicting a Republican free fall are prophetic, the GOP worries their legislators could suffer. We'll keep you posted on the key races.

Payne joshed me over Monday's blog, calling it a "bouquet" to R Guv nominee John Dendahl. "You jut want a fight," he ribbed. Well, he's right about that. There's something weird about not having any exchanges at all between Big Bill and Joltin' John. Kinda like the old Soviet Politburo where the incumbents get 99% of the vote. Campaigns are about holding the incumbents accountable, no matter how popular, and this campaign gets a big fat "F" in that regard.


But Big Bill continues to get all the breaks. It seems to work that way when you keep yourself front and center. The apparent North Korea nuke test has given him yet another chance to showcase himself as an international player. The Guv was interviewed Monday on the nuclear issue by CNN and MSNBC and he did it from West Palm Beach Florida. Still traveling out-of-state with only a couple of weeks until Election Day? Well, he is head of the national Dem Guv's group and what is there to stop him? Certainly not the polls which tell him full speed ahead in any direction he would like to go.


Death claimed longtime NM congressional aide and always involved politico Lucy Salazar over the weekend. She served Manuel Lujan during most of his twenty years representing NM in the U.S. House and later when he became Secretary of Interior under the first President Bush. She was in her 70's and died of a massive heart attack

Lujan's biggest claim to fame was outstanding constituent service and it was Salazar who was key in that regard. She had contacts throughout the state and was a fixture on the political scene for decades. She started on Lujan's office staff in the early years of LuJan's tenure (He was first elected in 68'.) and finished her congressional career as his chief of staff. After her stint with him at Interior, she retired to ABQ, but remained active in GOP causes.

"Lucy represented the word loyalty, and there are not that many people in politics who really represent that word," eulogized Kurt Lohbeck of ABQ who served with Salazar in Washington as did your blogger.

Lucy was a master of efficiency, a noted political tactician and a role model for women who sought to advance beyond the secretarial pool in the then-male dominated world of top level congressional aides.

Kurt told me that Lucy was the widow of Robert Salazar who served as motor vehicle commissioner under GOP Governor Ed Mechem back in the 50's. I think of her life as a great drive through the many roads of our beloved La Politica.

Thanks for the company. Come back again soon.

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