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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Weekend That Was: Exclusive News & Analysis From Dem & R Meetings; Weh & Colón; Di & Marty & Much More On Your Big Blog Monday 

The party that could least afford it showed the most division this weekend, signaling that the longtime majority Democrats face no imminent threat as they prepare for Campaign '08 under the leadership of their new chairman, ABQ attorney Brian Colón. Meanwhile, the Grand Old Party again selected Allen Weh as their state chair, but not before another bout of infighting that has haunted the GOP for the last four years.

Weh managed a 57% win over late entrant Earl Greer of T or C, but most analysts saw Greer as a weak contender who only made his candidacy official less than 48 hours before Saturday's ABQ NM GOP central committee meeting and failed to articulate why he should be selected. Rather than an affirmation of current GOP leadership, Weh's re-election was thus read as a compliment to his organizational ability which Greer supporters said had the assistance of the Republican National Committee, but not a negation of charges that he has run the party mainly for the Bush White House and his patron, ABQ GOP Rep. Heather Wilson.

Would-be reformers of the GOP were regretful at not having the chance to take the weakened Weh out with a first-rate opponent. That dream ended abruptly when Roswell oilman Mark Murphy, who has tangled with the far-right element of the party represented by Roswell State Senator Rod Adair and to a lesser extent by Roswell State Rep. Dan Foley, decided not to make the run.

THE R ROAD AHEAD

While some GOP county chairmen complained that their local candidates were not getting enough attention under Weh, it's hard to see how that will change in '08 as Wilson and GOP U.S. Senator Pete Domenici have been wounded by the US Attorney political scandal and the no-end-in-sight Iraq war. The party, locally and nationally, will have its hands full with their top-tier contests, never mind down-ballot races. But Weh, who has led the party since 2004, will likely be a better listener after the convention which, as we predicted, turned out to be one where a message was sent, but the guard remained unchanged.

Some of the R's who have been wrangling with the Weh regime and the Dendahl one before that actually welcomed his re-election. "He owns it now, and 2008 does not look good," related one of them. He and others said they did not want their party to go down in flames, but "sometimes you have to burn the village before it can be rebuilt." If 2008 is a Dem repeat of '06, those disgruntled with Weh's ways and seeking to move the party toward the middle will have another chance--and probably a much better one--of seizing control.

A major factor in the re-election of Weh, who says this is his last term, was the '08 campaigns of Domenici and Wilson. Pete, according to the GOP Alligators analyzing his convention speech, gave "an implied endorsement" of Weh. What might have been more significant was the speech for Weh by one of Heather's predecessors, former U.S.Rep. Manuel Lujan. Despite having been thrown out of his GOP national committeeman slot several years ago by lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett whose supporters are in Weh's corner, the party warhorse urged the convention to stick with the status quo. Was that Manuel coming through for Pete one more time?

THOSE DOCILE D'S
Chairman Colón
While bitter bickering highlighted the GOP confab, the Democrats, who are not known for shying away from a good fight, apparently are not going to have one until Big Bill Richardson leaves the scene. The race for state chair wasn't even close. Brian Colón, (with the support, we are told, of Big Bill, Light Guv Denish and ABQ Mayor Marty) captured the votes, if not yet the hearts, of about 76% of the central committee.

Colón worked his tail off while former State House Majority leader Michael Olguin did what he did when he lost his Socorro House seat to Republican Don Tripp. Trial attorney Colón may be asking why he wanted the chairmanship if he is unable to recruit a suitable opponent to run against aging political giant Domenici. That and using his dialing for dollars fingers are going to be the new chairman's most important tasks. Staffing the party with his own brand of underlings, as did outgoing chair John Wertheim, will also likely be on the new chair's checklist.

DI'S DIG

Diane Denish did not get where she is (two-term Light Guv) by backing away. At Saturday's Dem session in Cruces she bared the bare knuckles in what can be recorded as the first public hit in the 2010 campaign for the D nomination for Governor.

We don't have the exact quote, but reliable Gators said it was a not so indirect shot at her potential rival, ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez. It went something like this: "We don't need to be endorsing Republicans like Pete Domenici; we need to be finding someone to run against him."

In case you missed it, Mayor Marty has been playing toady to the 74 year old senator, declaring, if not his undying love, definitely his undying support in the form of an outright re-elect endorsement. And strangely, Marty's political prognostications also have a pro-Pete bent with His Honor averring that Pete can't be beat and why should the Dems even bother. That's just what the Dems don't want to hear in the wake of the US Attorney scandal and a pending Senate Ethics Committee inquiry of Domenici. Marty says he is not yet an "official" candidate for the far-away Guv's race. And who can blame him? If Lady Di is already off the leash with three years to go, imagine the heat to come.

MARTY'S MOUSSE

If Marty does give it a gubernatorial go, Di may have to hit the gym to keep up with him. He worked the convention much longer than she, according to those on the scene. Marty also had a "dessert reception" the night before the convention, outclassing Di's team who dished up breakfast burritos. Hey, if the guy serves up a good chocolate mousse, who cares what he says about Pete.

MAKE OURS MEDIUM RARE

The Gourmet Magazine award for the Dems was unanimously awarded to Santa Fe's Javier Gonzales whose party Friday night at the notable Double Eagle restaurant in Old Mesilla was mobbed by mooching Dems carving up and scarfing down delicious prime rib.

And what is Javier's motive for putting out the au jus? "He wants to run for something and is keeping his name before the party," said one of our informants of the former Santa Fe county commissioner. Well done, Javier. Giving away prime rib is a sure-fire way to keep you in the memory banks of working class Dems. Hint: it may also work with reporters and bloggers.

RUNNING, BUT NOT STALKING
Joan Griffin
She served as Mayor Marty's press flack during his successful '05 re-election bid, but advertising firm owner Joan Griffin says she will not be a stalking horse for the mayor if she runs and wins a seat on the ABQ city council. Griffin said over the weekend she is "leaning toward" running in the October election for the SE Heights seat being vacated by Martin Heinrich who plans to seek the Dem nomination for Congress. Griffin, a Democrat and a 15 year resident of liberal leaning District six, said her politics are similar to those of Henirich's.

As for the Marty connection, the New York native who has made ABQ home since '83, says "no one in city hall, including the mayor asked me to run. My agency does not have any contracts with the city. I served as his campaign press secretary for three months."

Griffin, who also operates the NM franchise of the national dating service "It's Just Lunch," would be one of several hopefuls expected to seek the Heinrich council seat.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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