Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Heather Holding Lead As Count Stalls; Big Bill Has Historic Sweep; Lyons Tops Baca; State House Static 

You can only hold your breath so long. We signed off of KANW 89.1 FM at 3:30 this morning as the vote count in the squeaker of a lifetime sputtered to a halt with word that at lest 4,000 Bernalillo absentee and other out-of-county-ballots will not be tallied until later today, maybe longer. But indications were that embattled ABQ GOP incumbent Heather Wilson was in the drivers seat as she fought to hold off Democratic challenger Patricia all evening and saw the race start to break her way around Midnight when conservative Torrance county, the stepchild that everyone had ignored, came roaring in for Heather. By our count, Wilson was leading by about 1400 votes. Other counts had it a bit less.

All Bernalillo county results here. State results here.

Wilson told supporters she was looking forward to celebrating a morning victory over orange juice, but the lawyers may be the ones celebrating if Madrid gets this thing closer when the final unofficial count is know. Madrid, herself a lawyer, seemed to sense it and went to bed. Absent some major screw-ups--not an unlikely event--Wilson's lead will be difficult for Madrid to overcome, especially since Wilson carried the rest of the absentee ballots by 53% to 47%.

One hope the Heather-Patsy battle doesn't mimic the Iraq war and turn into a no-end-insight battle. But every vote deserves to be counted, and maybe recounted. Patience is not only a virtue in this case, but a necessity.

At the moment,it is the closest congressional race in the nearly 40 year history of the district. In 1980, Bill Richardson almost upset Republican Manuel Lujan. I was on Lujan's staff and recall that one was finally settled with a several thousand vote win for Manuel.


There was no close call for Big Bill 26 years later. Last night he rewrote the history books, scoring a stunning 68% win over outmatched R John Dendahl. It appeared the Governor, who easily surpassed the previous Guv win record set by Jack Campbell in 64,' has won 32 of 33 of New Mexico's counties. Catron, as Richardson had predicted, was the sole holdout.

It was surreal as lobbyist Scott Scanland and I watched returns form arch-conservative Chaves, Lea and Otero fall into the Big Bill column. The Guv himself seemed a little blown away, saying it was one of those nights that gives pause. You don't often hear this chief executive say he was "humbled" but he did last night. He should be. With the enormous win come even higher expectations. He will try to deliver on them in the next session of the Legislature and when he explores a run for the 08' Dem Prez nomination.


There were few bright spots for the NM GOP last night. They were embarrassed by the 70% win of Senator Jeff Bingaman and were wiped out for all lower ballot races except land commissioner in which Pat Lyons rescued them from a down-ballot shut-out by handily beating Dem Jim Baca. The end came early as Pat landslided Jim in Bernalillo county and even the mighty Democratic north could not rescue the 61 year old ex-ABQ mayor.

The R's dumped hundreds of thousands into the secretary of state and attorney general's contest, but it was all for naught. Dem Mary Herrera was elected secretary of state with 53% and veteran NM politico Gary King landslided R Jim Bibb by 12 points. In fact, R Lorenzo Garcia did better than Bibb, who spent hundreds of thousands. Garcia managed a 47% showing against Dem auditor winner Hector Balderas. James B. Lewis led the down-ballot Dem team garnering about 60% of the votes to take the Treasurer's office.

The R's had hoped for a couple of pick-ups in the State House, but lobbyist Scanland and State Senator James Taylor tracked it until the wee morning hours watching Dem Don Whitaker going down, but seeing that offset by the defeat of R House leader Terry Marquardt. The House stays 42-28 Dem.


It was E-Nite all right. Exciting, exhilarating and emotional, just what all of us in the political game live for. Watching history being rewritten in the Guv's race, the high drama of Patsy and Heather, and the big change in Congress to the Dems were the highlights. Everyone involved in the radio broadcast agreed it will be a night we will always remember.

I have said on several occasions that I hoped that whoever won the congressional race would do so by at least 2,000 votes so we would not have a polarizing and damaging fight, like the 2000 Prez race. We are not there as I write you near the 5.a.m. hour. Let's see what happens in the days ahead. Meantime, congratulations to all the candidates who put themselves on the line Tuesday. We sure enjoyed the show.

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