Saturday, November 04, 2006

Our Saturday Special: Can Laura's Luv Trump The Anger? Plus: Lyons Vs. Baca Update, And: More From The Trail As We Near E-Day 

In a congressional race that has been tighter than Willie Nelson's headband, there were some signs of loosening as we headed into the final weekend of Campaign 06. Nationally, it appeared the Democratic trend was continuing and perhaps gaining a bit of steam and there was no reason to think it would not be felt here where ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson and Dem Attorney General Patricia Madrid have battled for more than a year.

A variety of pundits and politicos were saying they see Madrid as the narrow leader and were waiting confirmation of their gut feel from the final ABQ Journal Poll on Sunday. Among them was KKOB-AM's Jim Villanucci, a Heather supporter, whose program I appeared on Friday and who is now saying he now sees Madrid in the lead by a couple of points. It was a viewpoint being echoed across La Politica, but few were willing to call this hard-fought race either on or off the record. Maybe that will change tomorrow, and we'll be here to tell you if it does.

I told the KKOB audience what to look for on Sunday: the candidate who is atop the Journal poll, and it doesn't matter by how much. That candidate has gone on to win in all but two cases in the past 20 years. Madrid was ahead of Heather in the mid-October survey and the smart money was betting that she will be clinging to the lead Sunday.


The GOP, the party of strong closes, continues to push hard, taking advantage of Madrid's debate missteps in TV spots and bringing in First Lady Laura Bush to rally the troops.

But for Heather there was no escaping the primary issue in the campaign. She was again asked Friday what she thought of the job President Bush was doing and again she refused to answer. In just two days the people will answer that question.


Besides the congressional duel, the other big race in play is for state land commissioner between Dem Jim Baca and incumbent R Pat Lyons. Tracking data shows Lyons starting to move ahead in Bernalillo county and its suburbs, which he must if he is to offset the Democratic North which should perform well for Baca.

Rancher Lyons has planted himself in the metro trying to boost his lead here. Friday he joined with Lionsgate Entertainment and the City of Rio Rancho to finalize a land acquisition that will bring the well-known film company to New Mexico.

Meanwhile, Baca trying to win his third term as land commissioner since the early 80's, was basking in the glow of his moments with ex-President Clinton who chatted with Baca Thursday night at a Madrid rally. Baca got lucky and was shown with the ex-Prez in the closing moments of one of the late news broadcasts.

The race will likely be the closest one we cover on Election Night when we gather the gang at the studios of KANW 89.1 FM for continuous coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at 5 p.m. we'll have the Election Eve Special with predictions and analysis starting at 5 p.m.


Big Bill will close out his campaign by attending a rally in ABQ's South Valley today and doing an old fashioned whistle-stop train trip Sunday. On Monday he will board an airplane for stops in SE NM. The Guv is trying to run the table and round up conservative votes in a region that would normally go heavy for R nominee John Dendahl.

Speaking of Dendahl, he was at the Laura Bush-Heather rally Friday, but television coverage of the event had neither him or GOP senate candidate Allen McCulloch anywhere in sight. The stage was strangely barren for a major political rally. Usually, all the major candidates are pictured behind the speaker, in this case the First Lady. Friday it was Wilson introducing Mrs. Bush and Senator Domenici (who is not on the ballot) sitting oddly alone behind her.

Maybe they planned this one differently, but it was a stark reminder of the GOP weakness at the top of the ticket and how lonely this fight has been for the four term representative.


The Wilson-Madrid race was staying almost exclusively negative on the tube as we headed into Saturday, as both candidates apparently feared going positive was too risky in the tight race. But there have been some humorous moments in the campaign. One we highlighted here was the "Sheriff" ad released by the Governor and which is now among the nominees for being one of the best of its kind in a national poll. You can vote on your favorite here.

After this campaign, more people may want to vote on the best and worst TV ads rather than the candidates who all look like Satan incarnate after being sprayed with nonstop mud pies.

We're bloggin' it all the way through. Back tomorrow with a special Sunday edition. I hope you can join me.

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