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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pete Fires Back At Foes In His Latest Fundraising Letter, Plus: Non-Navajo Gets Navajo Heavy House Seat, And: Judges & Their Campaign Cash 

Sen. Domenici
He saves it for the very end, but in a fund-raising letter sent across our Enchanted Land, GOP U.S. Senator Pete Domenici returns some of the political fire he's been getting over the U.S. Attorney scandal. After writing of "the good things we have been able to do," Pete drops in a "p.s." that gives his supporters a serving of red meat they are probably in need of after nearly two months of being on the defensive.

"...I've warned that the old politics of personal destruction and the "comprehensive smear" would be used against me...It is now underway...the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has issued press releases and emails attacking me in the most despicable and dishonest way. I have never run a campaign in this manner and will never do so. But, in order to get our positive message out, and to fight against those who will stop at nothing to increase their power, I need your help...now more than ever."

Domenici's efforts to discredit NM US Attorney David Iglesias have, at best, met with mixed results. But Domenici is not charged with any criminal acts and the story is complicated and hard for the general public to fully grasp. While strategists weighing in here believe keeping the heat on Iglesias is necessary, charging the whole thing off to politics as usual may also resonate with voters already prone to trust the senior senator. The fundraising letter lays the groundwork.

As best as I can gather, the letter was not sent only to Republicans but also to independents. It is with independents that Domenici fell below the important 50% approval level (48%) in the only public polling we have available since the scandal mushroomed. Survey USA also shows voters aged 18-34 are the only age group not to give Pete majority support, with just 48% approving. The good news for him is that this group generally has the lowest voter turnout.

NAVAJO COMEBACK?

My political Alligators are predicting an '08 state House Democratic primary fight in the wake of Big Bill's Wednesday appointment of a non-Navajo to fill the Gallup area District 5 seat left vacant by the resignation of Navajo State Rep. Irvin Harrison. He took a job with the Public Regulation Commission. The county commissions of McKinley and San Juan counties, as required by law, suggested names to replace Harrison. The Governor went with the McKinley recommendation--former Gallup Mayor John Pena. San Juan sent him the name of Navajo educator Ethel Manuelito.

The House 5 voting age population is two-thirds Indian and the insiders say if Representative Pena decides to seek election to the seat he should expect a primary duel with at least one Navajo opponent. San Juan makes up only small part of the district which is why the Guv may have decided to go with the McKinley pick, and not the Native American from San Juan. But the political reality is understood. His office said last night: "Obviously, Mr. Pena will have to prove himself to voters in the 2008 election."

JUDGING THE MONEY

Judge Kennedy
When we broke the story that Bernalillo county District Court Judge Michael Kavanaugh had received $8,000 in 2004 campaign contributions from figures involved in the Metro Court scandal, he emailed that he would be donating the funds to charity, but would have to take out a personal loan to do so. Kavanaugh was presiding Metro Court judge when planning for the construction of the courthouse got underway. Former State Senator Aragon, among others, have been federally indicted on corruption charges in connection with construction of the $83 million project. The story raised questions about campaign money laws and judges. NM Court of Appeals Judge Rod Kennedy blogs in with the stuff we need to know.

"Judges are forbidden by state law from keeping campaign money after the election. If we have anything left, we have to either return it on a pro rata basis to all contributors or give it to charity. When a judge is compelled to get rid of all campaign money received by the next finance report following the election, what's the point of taking out a personal loan to make a donation to charity when there is no campaign money? Some of (Kavanaugh's) campaign money came from questionable sources, but it's all gone...Kavanaugh's gesture should be shown for the significant personal sacrifice that it is..." stated Republican Kennedy.

The last time I saw Rod, he was shopping at Wal-Mart. Being a budget-conscious guy, maybe he could loan Judge Kavanaugh the money?

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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