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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pearce's Parting With Pete; A "Gutsy" Move? Plus: Dem Congress Challengers Working Money Tree, And: More From The War Front 

Pete & Pearce
Don't tell Steve Pearce to call him "Saint Pete." In what one veteran observer described as a "pretty gutsy move," the southern NM GOP Congressman made a point of going public over his disagreement with Senator Pete Domenici's split with the White House on the direction of the Iraq war. Pearce may yet throw in the towel on the war, but not until the bitter end. Meantime, he sent out a news release detailing a rare parting of the ways with Pete and sending a a message to conservative Republicans (and conservative cowboy Dems) who feel abandoned by Domenici.

"I appreciate and respect Senator Domenici's leadership for New Mexico and know that he must have weighed the issues and come to this decision carefully. I support the troops and am committed to ensuring they receive proper funding. As a combat veteran, I continue to believe that battlefield assessments are best made by the generals and commanders in the field." Declared Pearce in what goes down as a memorable public split with the senior senator.

Pete's switch on the war will appeal to Democrats and Independents who he needs for re-election, but Pearce's district leans hawkish. Also, Pearce's support of Bush and the war appeals to the small number of Republicans who compose the nominating wing of his party. That will be crucial if Domenici's senate seat becomes vacant or if Pearce someday makes a play for Governor.

The three term lawmaker is taking a gamble that the war will not turn into a more defining issue for him and cause him trouble in '08, but he is clearly defining himself. That contrasts with the political muddle in which ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson finds herself. She held back on direct comment on Domenici's switch, perhaps mindful that she can ill afford to lose even an hand full of conservative R's in the wake of her less than 1000 vote re-election win last year. On the other hand, GOP politicians like former NM Governor Dave Cargo are warning Wilson that she has to "move away" from the war or risk her seat to a wave of Dem and Independent discontent. For Heather, it seems "it's damned if you do and damned if you don't."

THE WANNABES

'08 Dem opponents of Wilson and Pearce were working Monday to convince the insiders that they have what it takes by touting their second quarter fundraising totals. ABQ City Councilor Martin Heinrich reported he raised $181,000 for his bid for the Dem nomination to take on Heather. Pearce Dem rival Bill McCamley came in with $140,000. Both surpassed expectations and are off to good money starts. Can they get to $500,000 by year's end? Dem Al Kissling, seeking the Pearce seat again, says he raised only $10,000.

Insiders are still waiting to see if any other Dem congressional candidates emerge. A young lawyer, Jon Adams, surfaced over the holiday to say he will run join Heinrich in the race, but it does not seem like a serious effort. Down south, my Alligators are reporting a Hispanic Dem currently living in El Paso, 57 year old Rick Bolanos, whose family hails from Las Vegas, NM, intends to get in the race with McCamley and Kissling and will move to La Mesa in Dona Ana county to start a campaign. He would be the sole Hispanic candidate, but his seriousness has yet to be gauged.

THE EVERITT EXIT

It's too bad because she worked hard, but Beth Everitt, superintendent of the Albuquerque Public Schools who announced her resignation Monday, like many supers before her, leaves under a cloud. Here's an excerpt from a June 22 KRQE-TV report.

KRQE News 13 has obtained a thick bundle of e-mails detailing how APS and Rio Grande High School administrators reacted to a high school student whose failing grade in English was changed. On May 17, APS Superintendent Beth Everitt told News 13 that neither of the students' parents--a former school board member and a current county commissioner--put pressure on her to get the grade changed.

"Neither one called me or approached me or asked for anything," she said.

But the e-mails reveal that's not the whole story


The student in question was the son of Bernalillo County Commissioner Teresa Cordova and unfortunately for Everitt it will be a lasting memory of her tenure. KOB-TV has Everitt's swan song news conference posted here.

BACK ON THE WAR FRONT...


The Pete Iraq war switch continues to occupy the Alligators. Here's some from one of the Senior and Democratic variety in western NM:

"Pete’s switch is going to make almost everyone angry. Hard core Republicans are going to view Pete as a turncoat and Democrats and Independents are going to see his switch as a PR stunt in preparation for the election. I doubt Pete will follow through with action to match his rhetoric and the lack of action will infuriate war opponents who will be watching him like a hawk for meaningful follow-through. Pete has progressively become such a hard line partisan over the years that I think few will view his switch as being based on conscience. Most observers will view the switch as a convenient prelude to his reelection campaign."

And another from an ABQ Dem Gator who scores Pete, but laments his party's positioning for the '08 cycle when Domenici seeks re-election.

"The Dems finally have a battle cry. I may have actually believed Senator Pete if he had changed his mind off cycle. But now that he is in a re-election cycle and in trouble in the polls it is hard for me to believe that he means it. If the party is smart, they will hammer him day and night and every public appearance will feature shaking fists, wielding a pair of flip flops! Too bad we don't have a viable candidate."

THE PLAYERS LIST

More on the "Top Ten" most influential legislators in NM since WWII--the Thursday blog that keeps on giving. Stephanie Dubois emails in that our Senior Alligator's #1 pick for most influential---State Sen. Aubrey Dunn of Alamogordo--has switched parties since leaving the Legislature. The onetime conservative Dem is now an Independent.

Another politico nominated former State Rep, John Mershon (1958-82), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for the power list. "Mershon ushered in the modern era of state budgeting. The Legislative Finance Committee budget was initiated on his watch. Prior to the LFC, the Gov held almost all the budget cards." He wrote

It makes one wonder how Big Bill's tenure would have turned out if the likes of Sen. Dunn and Rep. Mershon were at the Roundhouse during his time.

Keep the news and e-mail coming and help us cover New Mexico's never-ending La Politica.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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