Monday, January 22, 2007

Not All Honey For Big Bill; Long Knives Already Out; Are They Hillary's? Plus: Our Review Of Media Coverage, And: Sources Say Tsosie Out Of Senate 

He received love notes worthy of Romeo and Juliet from the New Mexico press Sunday, but Big Bill's long expected official announcement on the ABC news broadcast "This Week" that he will start going after the '08 Dem Prez nod was shaded quite differently in certain corners of the national political stage where the take-no-prisoners attitude immediately reared its ugly head. And as if the first hit didn't sting enough, the guy leveling it has a New Mexico connection, and some Alligators said, a Hillary Clinton connection too. (See Governor Richardson's complete video announcement here.)

Steve Clemons, a former adviser to Dem NM U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, (Jeff supports Big Bill's bid) swiped the Guv for his "demeanor" towards women. And he wasn't talking about the stir caused when NM Lieutenant Guv Diane Denish complained of Big Bill's "touchy" ways. No, this knife was plunged deep into the would-be presidential skin. Clemons, writing for his blog, the Washington Note, which in turn was posted on the widely read liberal Huffington Post, compared Big Bill's problems to the sexual harassment charges that faced GOP California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Clemons offered nothing much in the way of evidence. Heck, that standard went out with Eisenhower. But it was not lost on any of the insiders that his lengthy hit piece was posted just hours after Big Bill announced, and that the think tank he works for--the New America Foundation--will host Hillary Clinton as a speaker at the end of the month. Not that Hillary's fingerprints were actually seen, but as the first serious female candidate in U. S. Prez history, having an opponent with an history of problems treating the opposite sex with due respect could keep women from straying from her fold. The problem is the allegations are just that.


The naysayers weren't exactly piling on--the Guv received pretty decent notices in the national press--but there were other rumblings. Time magazine's Joe Klein was less than charitable in his assessment of Bill in a piece on Western Democrats. Here's the money graph.

"New Mexico's popular Latino Governor Bill Richardson will probably try in 2008, but Richardson has spent most of his career in Washington and sometimes tries a bit too hard at playing the Western card: his cowboy boots are ostrich skin, which is permissible but fancy. Richardson certainly can't compete with Republicans John McCain or Mitt Romney, either of whom would easily sweep the region."

So penned Klein who wrote the book "Primary Colors" about one of Bill Clinton's campaigns.

Perhaps our Bill ought to feel honored by these out-of-the-box smack downs. After all, he's barley registering in the national Democratic primary preference polls. Getting hit hard early and often is one sure sign that your opponents think you may be in the game for real.


Speaking of those polls--and you are going to be inundated with them in the months ahead--the first one gauging Dem Prez favorites in our Enchanted Land had to leave Big Bill supporters somewhat crestfallen. While the Guv was garnering 28 percent of the vote here, Hillary was at 24% in the ARG survey. After scoring a 69 percent statewide Guv win, one would expect Bill to be at least in the 40 percent range in the state he has overpowered politically. But he's not in Tucumcari anymore. He's running for President and even NM voters who supported him for Guv are going to give him a second look and/or rely on old loyalties when it comes to picking their White House favorite. Perhaps his "official" entry will turn it around.

Ed Romero
One fellow who won't have a hard time making up his mind on who to support for the White House is Ed Romero. The former Ambassador to Spain and onetime NM Democratic ward heeler will be a major Bill Prez fundraiser. Federal rules say an individual can only give a Prez contender $2100 for the upcoming primaries. Romero goes back thirty years with the Guv, and is sure to tap as many $2100 donors as anyone.

And how can Big Bill raise all the money he needs to wage a more than symbolic effort for the top spot and not be passed off, as he already is in some national circles, as actually running for vice-president? One of my financial Alligators said raising $70 million like Hillary or Obama is not in the cards for our Guv. "If he could get $10 million in the bank by Labor Day, it would be a success." He analyzed. Is that enough? It ain't hay, but to get more, you need good polls. To get polls, you've got to go to the early primary states and plant yourself there. Goodbye Chama. Hello, Concord. New Hampshire, that is.

More on the money game. What about those two fundraiser staffers on Big Bill's Prez roster who have connections to Senator Joe Lieberman whose stock has crashed in Democratic party circles for his pro-Iraq war stance? "Bill is not going to have his pick of staff. That's going to Hillary and Obama. But their connection to Lieberman could tap into money in the Jewish community. Also, they have connections to the Democratic Leadership Council which spawned Bill Clinton's candidacy." Opined our finance man.

National political heavy Steve Murphy and his D.C. cohorts will guide the Big Bill media effort. Dave Contarino, chair of the Guv's re-elect, now takes on the Prez campaign management with the main headquarters in ABQ and a smaller outpost in Santa Fe. Politico Amanda Cooper, daughter of U.S. Rep Tom Udall, (D-NM), also remains aboard.

Is Bill in the race to stay? Sure, if he has the money to stay in. But that's not guaranteed, with as many as a dozen candidates picking from the same money tree. Free advice to all following this Prez campaign: follow the money, and the amount Big Bill is raising. He could stay in the race no matter what, but if he doesn't have serious cash he won't be taken seriously.


Not that we're the teacher around here, but we would give Team Big Bill a B+ for their media effort in getting their candidate off the ground. First, on Friday they leaked the story that the Guv would announce Sunday to Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press; a good choice as the AP goes everywhere. Nedra recently traveled with the Guv to the Sudan on a diplomatic mission. Also on that sojourn was Guv press aide Pahl Shipley (now working as flack for the Prez committee as Gilbert Gallegos takes over the top communications spot in the Guv's office.) Did Pahl and Nedra cut the deal then? Probably.

There were a few minor errors in the AP dispatch. In 1980, Bill lost to Congressman Manuel Lujan by about 5,000 votes, not the 1,000 cited in the news service article. And he won his Guv re-election with 69 percent of the vote, not 68 percent.

Hillary Clinton sucked up a lot of the political air when she announced her exploratory committee Saturday. That left Sunday for the Guv to break his news officially with his friend from his Clinton administration days, George Stephanopoulos, the host of ABC's "This Week." They pre-taped the interview at the Santa Fe Governor's mansion on Thursday and took it national Sunday morning. But the Guv did not get the "This Week" lead. That went to Republican Senator Sam Brownback who was announcing his candidacy and showcasing the intense media competition the candidates now face.


The Guv's major home state newspaper, the ABQ Journal, was also thrown a bone, with an official confirmation of the candidacy for Sunday's edition. They paid back in full, running a stunning nine pages on the Guv's entry, even though right now his candidacy is recognized as second tier. Like Big Bill, it seemed the paper was also grasping for the national limelight and will hit with four more lengthy pieces in the weeks ahead.

Overall, the Guv's press pack dragged the thing out and milked it for all it was worth. That they did it at a time when Hillary was on the weekend air with her own "exploratory committee" and the national football playoffs underway, is not a mortal sin. They did score an "A" with the new Web site. Like the one he unveiled for his Guv re-elect, this one is also a first-class effort. Bill's media mavens will try for another national TV hit in late March when he makes a "formal announcement."


Can I take you back to that ARG poll? How about Rudy Giuliani's NM numbers versus Arizona Senator McCain's? McCain is no stranger to NM, having just campaigned twice here for GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson, but the used-to-be maverick R has quite a way to go to seal the deal here despite his geographical proximity. In the survey among state R's taken this month, former New York City Mayor Giuliani scores 38 percent to McCain's 20 percent. And you thought the Dem Prez race was going to be fun!

Sen. Tsosie
It's Sayonara time for Democratic State Senator Leonard Tsosie, say the Santa Fe crowd. They report ("with 99.5%" certainty) that the Native American lawmaker will leave the senate to take a seat on the Navajo Nation Council. Tsosie appealed to the Navajo court to keep both jobs, but the court nixed that idea saying take one or the other.

Tsosie has been in the Roundhouse since '93 and was instrumental in dethroning Manny Aragon as Senate President Pro Tem and going into a coalition with the R's to make Richard Romero senate leader. Romero and Aragon are long gone, and liberal Tsosie may believe leaving the senate and taking his seat on the Council is the best way to go if he nurtures any hope of becoming the President of the Navajo Nation someday. And he just might,

Since Sen. Tsosie represents a multi-county district, (mainly in the Northwest) it would be up to Big Bill to name a replacement. Lucky him. He just got done filling the seat of Senator Joe Fidel and the state House seat of Hector Balderas, now state auditor.

The Gators give this one to a Native American, but who? How about Linda Lovejoy, who just ran and lost for Navajo Nation president and is a former member of the NM Public Regulation Commission.? Does she live in the district? Is she interested? Another name that popped up n the early warning radar is Derrith Watchman-Moore. She ran for PRC and lost the Dem '06 primary. The only problem is that she just got a nice nice paying job with the environment department. Don't worry, though. There is never a shortage of applicants to take to the brightly lit stage of La Politica.

News? Comments? Send them via the email link at the top of the page. As always, thanks for tuning in to www.joemonahan.com--the home of New Mexico politics.

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