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Monday, April 23, 2007

Sources: Governor Says It's Heinrich's Time To Take On Heather; Moves To Clear Field; Will It Work? Plus: An Ethics Overload? And: NM's Big Black Eye 

Big Bill
Top political sources confirmed this weekend that Governor Richardson believes ABQ City Councilor Martin Heinrich is "the perfect candidate" to take on ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson and will urge Democrats to unite behind Heinrich to avoid a contested Democratic primary which could split the party and waste money best used to unseat Wilson.

"The Governor wants it known that Martin is his guy. He's the perfect candidate. With Wilson so weak, this is no time to divide the party," informed a top and very reliable source.

Tradition dictates that the Governor not publicly state his favorite candidate in a primary, thus the use of the political grapevine to let the party faithful know his preference. His early embrace of Heinrich comes after a period of anxiousness for Dems who want someone on the playing field ASAP to take advantage of Wilson's political misfortunes, particularly the US Attorney scandal and the no-end-in-sight Iraq war which she continues to support.

The Guv's move to clear the field for Heinrich could ruffle some feathers and does not completely quash the prospect of an Hispanic candidate emerging to challenge Heinrich, but the odds have dipped dramatically as the Guv's support of Heinrich will make fund-raising difficult for any other contender. Heinrich heads to D.C. this week where his candidacy could get the blessing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Former UNM Prexy Louis Caldera and former ABQ City Councilor and '05 ABQ mayor candidate Eric Griego, now working for the state Economic Development Department, have been the most prominent Hispanics mentioned, but with Bill committed to Heinrich, political pros now see their candidacies as unlikely.

We are told that Richardson, who hired Heinrich as the state's Natural Resources Trustee, sees the councilors youth, his record on the council and his strong support of Second Amendment rights as positioning him well in the moderate 1st Congressional District.

Heinrich, 36, will need the head start an uncontested Democratic primary would give him. He must raise millions of dollars, build up his name ID and brush up on foreign policy in preparation for a face-off with Wilson. The ABQ Congresswoman, wounded by her continued support of the Iraq war and the US Attorney scandal, is relentlessly raising money in the early going. Most important, she continues to display the trademark steely determination that has seen her through past battles and which Martin Heinrich will soon see close-up.

TUBE TIME

You may have already seen Big Bill's first wave of TV spots for Iowa and New Hampshire. But how about some analysis? I sat down with KOB-TV to give some, and you can read that and see the spots right here.

ETHICS OVERLOAD?

On the heels of Big Bill re-establishing an ethics task force, comes this critical email that asks whether he should defer his gubernatorial salary while he steps up his Presidential campaign to practically full-time. "Should our Governor defer his salary? He certainly is not earning it. He is never in the state. He comes in only long enough to repack his suitcase." Wrote the Bill heckler.

But even if the peripatetic Guv cut in half the amount of time he devotes to his NM duties, he would still be spending more time on them than that of our recent Governors. No, Big Bill earns his paycheck whether in Des Moines, NM or Des Moines, Iowa.

As for the ethics task force, we already had one so why spend money and time on another? Why not continue to push for the original proposals? The Guv says: " The task force is charged with evaluating options for ethics and campaign finance reform and reviewing the results of the 2007 regular and special legislative sessions." We need 23 folks to give political advice?

OUR BLACK EYE

While the ethics drum is pounded by the interest groups and press, there is little if any statewide attention focused on one of the biggest black eyes and black clouds hovering over our state. This from the Rio Grande Sun:

"...According to preliminary figures from the Office of the Medical Investigator, Rio Arriba County tallied 18 premature deaths from drug overdoses during 2006...With 18 overdoses already confirmed, the County has tied its previous overdose record from 1999. The number rose throughout the 1990s and then hit a relative plateau: 15 in 2003, 17 in 2004, and another 17 in 2005. But those numbers may only hint at the true depth and breadth of the area's drug problem. Pastor Cesar Marti of the Lighthouse Church in ChimayĆ³ said he has counted 15 to 20 overdose deaths during the first few months of 2007 alone..."

How about a task force on that outrage? Potential members? Senator Bingaman and Rep. Udall are in the new Dem congressional majority. Doesn't this demand their attention? Senator Domenici, to his credit, addressed the blight in the late 90's. He would be another pick, along with the Guv and key legislators. There may not be votes at stake, but could there be a more meaningful accomplishment?

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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