Thursday, January 18, 2007

Heather Starts The '08 Money Hunt; Pearce Steps It Up A Notch, Plus: Some Roughhousing At The RoundHouse; Cervantes Pays; Park Places 

Sometimes you wonder why they want the job. No sooner are they re-elected then they have their hands out begging for more cash for the next campaign. In the case of ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson, the money hunt is already underway just two months after her near loss to Democrat Patricia Madrid. She has slated a $1000 per person fundraiser for ABQ'S Zea Rotisserie and Grill for January 25.

Heather has served in the House since '98, and while constantly raising money and running in hotly contested races every two years is no way to have fun, she at least has a shot at the U.S. Senate to look forward to someday. With a nice long six year term, you don't get on the fundraising treadmill nearly as often.


Speaking of the senate, or even the 2010 race for Governor, how about those lovey-dovey pics of GOP NM Congressman Steve Pearce and Big Bill that graced the statewide airwaves? The political odd couple really had the wall-leaners in near gasps as they heard of Pearce joining forces with the Dem Guv to fight the methamphetamine problem.

"It's an issue that humanizes Pearce and gets people to look at him in a different light," offered up one of the Alligators. The dry Pearce is not a made for TV guy and his sometimes harsh rhetoric, appealing to the hardcore right, is a hard-sell in the moderate outposts of the Middle Rio Grande Valley. But talk has been persistent that if the Domenici senate seat goes up for grabs in '08, Steve will chase it and fight Heather for it if he has to. And the top pros see the conservative Vietnam vet as the favorite to win such a GOP primary. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The insiders report Senator Pete, who has announced he is seeking another term, raised $30,000 at a recent Farmington event.

The meth issue polls well and gives Pearce entree to more moderate voters as he advocates not just enforcement, but treatment. It is also a critical issue in Hobbs, Pearce's hometown. On the other hand, his unequivocal support for Bush's troop increase in Iraq does not win him many friends. Pearce said Election Night he welcomes a more "bipartisan" approach to the war. Where is his?


Heather parts way with Pearce on the troop build-up. She's against it. That puts her at odds not just with Pearce but with NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh, showing the divisions the hot potato issue has caused in the GOP: "The changes on the ground that will result from this change in strategy, and the operational changes that result from this, are well worth the decision to add troop reinforcements," argues Weh, a retired Marine colonel.


Also on the GOP front, one of the state party's official Web sites is taking issue with our report that former GOP executive director Marta Kramer was "shown the door" by Weh. They contend Kramer's was a completely voluntary separation. Now, it is rare for anyone in politics to yell, "You're fired" and partisans are always going to try to spin a departure. That's what they get paychecks or consulting contracts for. But Chairman Weh did tell me over coffee: "I am not a figurehead. I can be tough to work for. Marta found that out...She needed a break." In addition, a reliable Alligator reports that a veteran Republican and no friend of Kramer's asked Weh about her departure and the chairman replied along the lines of: "You didn't see me trying to persuade her to stay."

Not that it is an earthshaking matter, but we do stand by our take that Kramer was being shown the door. The bottom line is that Kramer is history and Weh is seeking another term as chairman without her controversial tenure hanging around his neck. So far, no one has surfaced to oppose him and Weh is searching for a new executive director.


Dem House Speaker Ben Lujan is also not about to yell, "You're fired!" but he too got the job done when he relieved Dem State Rep. Joe Cervantes of his chairmanship of the judiciary committee by uttering: "It seemed he wasn't happy being judiciary chair.” Pretty smooth, Ben. Maybe you and Allen Weh can write some news releases together.

Cervantes of Dona Ana county was a major driver of the attempted coup of Lujan by State Rep. Kenny Martinez. He was out front and now he is out of power. Ironically, ABQ Rep. Al Park, who was also a ringleader of the Martinez effort, replaces Joe as judiciary chair. But Al was much more quiet than Cervantes during the tense campaign for speaker. Will he now warm to the speaker as he warms a chairman's chair courtesy of the man he tried to oust? We wouldn't bet against it.

Ken and Ben
Being an incorrigible political junkie (just like you) I had to be the first to run a photo of House Speaker Ben Lujan and Majority Leader Ken Martinez together at the '07 session. Photog Mark Bralley grabbed this snap and you have to say the formerly dueling duo appears to have made the peace. Their behind-the-scenes battle for speaker was tough, but both men conducted themselves as gentlemen. Martinez may look back at the contest as a defining moment in his political career which we suspect has a long way to go. Years from now, a retired Lujan might show up at the Roundhouse and see Rep. Martinez presiding as House speaker and reflect, "I helped make him a better leader." Oh yeah, I love this stuff.


The ABQ Journal has joined the blogosphere for this year's legislative session. The state's largest paper has its ample Santa Fe staff offering up blogging tidbits as well as the usual reams of copy you see in the dead tree version...The son of the late Dem NM U.S Senator Joe Montoya and I have been discussing who have been the most powerful congressional appropriators in our state's history. He agrees his dad does not fall into that category, but "Little Joe" of Santa Fe points out that while it was a big deal when Dem Tom Udall recently won a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Senator Montoya served in the U.S. House before he became a senator and was appointed to that committee by legendary U.S House Speaker Sam Rayburn. The big deal here is that Montoya got it as a freshman--something almost unheard of...

And did I see a letter to the editor recently praising the late President Ford from Montoya's longtime chief aide Bobby Baca? Could it be 30 years since I last saw Baca--on the '76 campaign trail--and flew with him, the Senator and the late Bill Feather of the AP down to Roswell?

So goes the long march of La Politica. Keep us posted by sending your news and comments from the email link at the top of the page.

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