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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fighting The Twilight; Pete's Opening Night On The '08 Trail; You Are There, Plus: Big Bill's First Prez Forum On TV Today 

Domenici at Kick-off
A spry Pete Domenici took to the podium last night near historic Old Town in Albuquerque to assure the Republican faithful (and a fair share of Democrats) that he is ready, willing and able to deliver on a seventh six year term in the United States Senate. "I want to say I am running!" the 74 year old emphatically declared to a combination campaign kick-off and fund-raiser. After a round of applause, he quickly added: "And I also want to say I am definitely running!" which sent gales of laughter rumbling through a brightly lit ballroom at the Hotel Albuquerque.

It was Pete's way of addressing the persistent concerns over his health and whether it will prevent him from continuing a political career that started as an ABQ city councilor in the mid-1960's, just blocks from last night's campaign kick-off. Domenici, keyed up for this important political event, appeared hale; his twenty minute speech did reveal a weaker voice, but one that retained timbre enough to assure his supporters that the ailments of age will not take him off the campaign trail--at least not now.

As his '08 campaign gets underway the senate giant will continue to assure his base supporters as he raises the millions necessary to make the run. (Today he is headed to Las Cruces)

Last night, accompanied by wife Nancy and Pete Jr., Domenici preached the gospel of bipartisanship, noting that his Republican party is in the minority in the senate by only one vote. "That one vote is enough to keep me from being a chairman," he ruefully imparted. He mentioned his cooperation with Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman on the '04 energy bill saying it would be a template for the cooperation that he will again pursue now that he is on the outside looking in, not to mention his need for re-election votes from the state’s majority party.

THAT PESKY WAR

The Senator did profess frustration; it was not health related, but it was a whopper. "You're hearing garbage, garbage from the media," he railed as he hit upon the #1 issue in the USA--the no-end-in-sight Iraq war. "There are good things happening" he told the crowd of about 300--"things that give you hope." He cited recent economic progress in ABQ as the kind of news he would like to see the public and media focus on.

But even as the veteran lawmaker spoke, the media he expressed frustration with was carrying very real and unbiased headlines of the war deaths of two young New Mexican soldiers and how they were being mourned.

Clearly, the war presents even the poll-popular Pete with an election year challenge. The Democrats control Congress because of it and their numbers could grow if the foreign policy debacle is not ended by the '08 election. With the blood of young Americans being spilled and the vast majority of the nation set against the Republican President's war policy, there will be little, if any, room for other issues, as important as the Senator says they may be. One could say that days of reckoning, not hope, are ahead for this Congress.

Pete's appearance is more wooden now; at times he borders on frailty, but he still commands a room with authority and a now legendary reputation earned by accomplishments and service to the state too lengthy to list. There's no denying that the twilight of an extraordinary political career is at hand, but the gleam in Domenici's eye sends the message that he believes its arrival can be delayed. Will someone argue otherwise?

ON THE SCENE

I took in Pete's plea for a repeat seated at a table with my old boss, ex-U.S. Rep. Manuel Lujan, GOP Land Commissioner Pat Lyons, '06 GOP Treasurer candidate Demesia Padilla and NM GOP National Committeewoman Rosie Tripp who made the "trip" up from Socorro. They made me get up for every standing ovation. (Not that I minded, Pete.) Democrats for Domenici enjoying the h'orderves included PR guru John Cordova. He heads up New Mexico's Dennis Chavez society, the senator who was the longest serving senator in state history (1935-62) until Domenici(1973-?) came along.

MORE MONEY NEWS

Pete isn't the only one out raising money early. ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson has another $1000 per person event slated. This one is a noon lunch set for February 26th at the new Savoy Bar and Grill. She held a similarly priced event recently at the Zea Rotisserie. Fund-raising for a competitive congressional seat may not take up as much time as lawmaking, but it's gaining fast.

MUST-SEE TV

It will be must see TV today for all you Big Bill Prez watchers. How will he do when he joins his rivals for the Dem Prez nod (Obama won't be there, but Hillary will) during a televised forum in Carson City, Nevada? It will be the candidates' first TV appearance together (they will appear on the stage one at a time to answer questions) and will be broadcast on C-SPAN starting at 1 p.m. However, you can also catch the action on your desktop or laptop as one of the Las Vegas TV stations provides a live video stream. As for Bill's Nevada campaign, here's a report on that.

MY BOTTOM LINES

Some reaction to our Tuesday blog on developments in the race for Dem state party chair. It's a hot potato with associates of Light Guv Denish emailing in to make sure she is not perceived as taking sides in the Michael Olguin-Brian Colón face-off. "She is not taking sides..She enjoys a good relationship with Michael and Brian," said one...And if you've ever been a political candidate, here's your worst nightmare come true....

That's it for now. Come back tomorrow for more NM politics. Email your news and comments from the link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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