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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October Surprise Sex Scandal Hits Heather; She Sat On Panel Overseeing Pages; Dems Strike; Details & Exclusive Analysis On The Home Of Campaign 06' 

NM Democrats became jubilant Monday as the October sex surprise got wrapped around ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson, just a day after the latest poll in her re-election bid showed her in a dead heat (44-44) with Dem challenger Patricia Madrid. It turns out that Wilson served from 2001-2005 in what is now one of the hottest seats in D.C.--the House committee that oversees the teenagers who work as House pages. Florida GOP Congressman Mark Foley resigned in disgrace when it was revealed he sent sexually charged emails {PDF} to a 16 year old male page, setting off a political firestorm that has the Dems hammering and the House GOP leadership running for cover.

Here in River City, the Madrid campaign wasted no time pinning the page problem on Heather's lapel.

"...as early as 2001, when Wilson was named to the House Page Board, pages were being warned about Foley's inappropriate behavior.

"We have another case of Wilson refusing to stand up and ask the tough questions. In 2001...pages were already being warned about the inappropriate conduct of Rep. Foley. But Wilson did nothing to protect teenage boys from this sexual predator... Why did Heather Wilson choose to do nothing to protect teenage boys from Mark Foley?"

Wilson, facing the roughest stretch of her political career, was quizzed on her knowledge of the page scandal by the AP:

"Foley's sexually explicit instant messages were sent in 2003. He also exchanged e-mails with another page in 2005.

"Although Wilson helped oversee the page program during part of that time, she told the AP that if anyone had a concern about Foley, it was never relayed to her.

"It's not clear to me what all the facts are," she said. "Certainly, based on what I saw last Friday, you (should) report it. The question is whether somebody knew, and when did someone know about those e-mails.

"If anyone...knew an adult was soliciting sex from a child and didn't report it, that person could have broken the law. "The obligation first and foremost is to protect children," she said. "I don't care if someone is a parish priest...or a member of Congress..." said the AP dispatch.

HEATHER: HOW HURT?


Reaction was immediate and widespread in the state's political community with the unanimous opinion that this can only hurt Heather, although to what degree is a matter of argument.

"This goes right to her base vote. Conservative Republicans will react strongest to this. They uphold the banner of moral values, and this strikes at their core. It is another reason they have to not vote this year," analyzed one Alligator monitoring developments.

And another: "Is this the straw that breaks Heather's back? I don't know, but it could be. It sure makes her TV commercials condemning Madrid for turning her head on the investigation of (ex-Treasurer) Vigil look dead. If Madrid turned her head on Vigil, it looks as if they can charge Wilson turned her head when this congressman was on the loose. I would look for Madrid or the national Democrats to come with ads linking the Foley scandal to Heather."

And another: "How long does this last? If it becomes a daily drumbeat it is going to keep the momentum with Madrid. If not, Heather should be able to move ahead, but this does work in Madrid's favor by offsetting the ethics attacks that Heather has made against Madrid."

It's been one thing after another for Heather; a bad poll, the guilty verdict on Vigil which diminishes him as a campaign issue against Madrid; her donation to charity of $8,000 that Rep. Foley's campaign contributed to her and now the revelation that she sat on the Page Board.

THE LONG KNIVES OF LA POLITICA


Right on schedule the long knives are coming out and slashing at the campaign Wilson is running, but the knives are being wielded not by Democrats, but by Republicans who are showing increasing frustration over the possibility that they could lose the seat. Here is a report from a GOP Alligator on the scene

"The many shortcomings of the Wilson campaign. Where do I start?!?

"No yard signs until September 25; the latest ad stating Heather voted to overturn Bush's stem-cell bill has outraged Right to Life; No positive commercials from Heather, with none in sight; Victory 2006 (the GOP get-out-the-vote effort) has been a waste of $40,000 a month; Next to no volunteer activity; Too many out-of-staters on Heather's campaign staff; Moving away from Bush is hurting Heather among the grassroots volunteers." Reports our upset campaign insider.

We've reported to you previously that it was hard getting direct info from the Heather campaign team, but the Alligators don't have that problem.

But what about the flaws in Madrid's campaign? Well, when you're ahead there are no flaws, but if Patsy slips you can be sure those long knives will get rust-free in a hurry. Meantime, maybe Madrid disappears for one of her favorite vacation spots, one where folks believe silence is golden.

CRYING CORRUPTION

How do you tie state corruption into the threat of sexual predators? If you are GOP attorney general contender Jim Bibb you call them "corrupt sexual predators." OK. I don't know if I quite get that, but Bibb's latest campaign commercial is well-produced. The problem is so is Democrat Gary King's whose aides say is determined to heavily outspend political newcomer Bibb and close out this one...U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman continues to expand his lead over GOP challenger Allen McCulloch. The ABQ Journal poll released today shows Jeff getting 65% of the vote to Doctor Allen's 19%. If the numbers hold, Bingaman will easily lead the Democratic ticket this year...

MY BOTTOM LINES


Barbara Longeway is one of our most persistent critics, but I respect her passion, even if disagreeing with her conclusions. Here's her latest email, addressing our Monday blog where we wrote on how J.R. Damron was replaced as the GOP Guv candidate by John Dendahl.

"Check the facts, I spoke with J.R. and asked if he was "dumped from the ticket." After he stopped laughing, he replied "absolutely not." The truth is that J.R.. wanted to be removed from the ticket, and he personally picked John Dendahl as his successor. There was no "plot" as you call it."

"You may argue that you're just repeating what your "Alligators" tell you. Well, maybe you need to find better informed "Alligators." If you insist on writing about La Politica and really want to have "nonpartisan" credibility, use facts." Stings Barbara.

Thanks, Barbara. I am confident of my sourcing and firmly believe that Damron was pushed out by top operatives--in NM and Washington--who wanted to make life difficult for Big Bill by damaging his standing here and nationally. Clearly, it has not turned out that way. Public quotes from R leaders support our story. Just Google them and see where the road leads. As for "better informed" Alligators," no way. They have nailed just about every major NM political story here for three years. We're stickin' with those who brought us to the party.

Your email of news, comments, criticisms and corrections are welcome. Send them from the link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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