Thursday, September 20, 2007

Big Bill Tries to Quash Senate Rumors, But It's A Hard Sell, Also: Leak From Ethics Panel Reveals Status Of Pete Probe, And: The ABQ Campaign Beat 

Big Bill
Memo to Big Bill: If you're going to get us conspiracy minded types to stop chattering about you running for the US Senate if your Prez plans don't pan out, you're going to have to give us something more to hang our hats on than you did Wednesday. Responding to an AP question about a possible Senate run, the Guv declared: "That's wishful thinking by a lot of people...I'm running for president."

Even if you are not genetically conspiratorial, that does not sound like a Shermanesque statement of withdrawal.

There's no disputing that the Guv is running hard for President. And he's doing alright compared to the expectations set by the insiders when he first announced. But calling a Senate run "wishful thinking" but not ruling it out tells us what we need to know. If and when the time comes, such a candidacy will be a notion the Big Bill brain trust will consider. Meantime, he's going to give his all to pull a Prez primary upset. No one would expect anything less from the hard-charging Richardson who won his 2006 re-election as Governor by the largest percentage in New Mexico history.


Big Bill can't mess with Senate talk; It does nothing to enhance his Prez chances. But my reliable Alligators tell me D.C. Democrats are talking out loud about the NM Senate seat held by 75 year old Republican Pete Domenici and how they can add it it to their list. They are working to broaden their majority next year and if they can go from 51 to 60 seats, or very close to it, the GOP will not be able to stall their legislation. Cast in that light, the Pete seat becomes even more tantalizing.

The D's have two lesser-known hopefuls, Don Wiviott and Jim Hannan, seeking the Senate nomination, but they are still hunting around for a top-tier name. Richardson heads the list, with ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez also getting mentioned. They've already looked at the election schedule as they fantasize about a Richardson candidacy. These D's say he would need to gather about 3,000 petition signatures to become eligible for the June '08 primary ballot. That's not many, but he would have to do it by around February 14th. That's a tight, but not prohibitive deadline.

The first four Prez primary states are in mid to late January. Bill says if he does not come in third in Iowa or New Hampshire, his candidacy would likely be over. There would then be time to get those Senate petition signatures, but not much. If his Prez campaign goes on past the big primary day of Feb. 5, a Senate run would be complicated but not impossible. Whoever secured the Dem Senate nomination in the June primary could step aside and the Dem Central Committee could name Bill as their replacement.

The bottom lines?

1. The Senate seat situation in New Mexico remains fluid. Richardson's Wednesday statement does not rule out a run; it just tries to keep the attention focused on his Prez campaign.

2. Another big name Democrat besides Bill could surface if Pete's numbers continue to drop.

3. Domenici, under current circumstances, remains favored for re-election, but circumstances are shaky and subject to sudden change without notice. Just the way you like every race to be.


In an odd coincidence, while that interview with Bill in which he was naysaying his Senate chances was being released, word was circulating that the investigation of Domenici by the Senate Ethics Committee has not been dormant. The Web site "truthout," quoting "senior staffers" at Senate Ethics, reports that lawyers at the NM US attorney's office have been interviewed and that enough evidence has been gathered to launch a formal committee probe of the state's senior senator. However, since the mid-90's there has been a truce on all such probes between the R's and the D's, putting a large question mark on whether Pete will be subjected to one.

Domenici and ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson are both under fire for pre-election phone calls they placed to then US Attorney David Iglesias who said the lawmakers tried to pressure him into speeding up federal indictments in his investigation of the construction of the Bernalillo County Metro Court building. Since Iglesias's revelations Pete's approval rating in the Survey USA poll has plummeted to 52%, igniting a firestorm of speculation about his political future.

Was the leak from he Ethics Committee part of a concerted effort by top Dems to keep the pressure on Pete to step down? No one would laugh you off the stage if you said so publicly.


The slow motion self-destruction of District 4 city council candidate Paulette de'Pascal continued this week as s she became the second council hopeful to get nabbed for incorrectly answering the ABQ Journal candidate questionnaire. (District 6 candidate Rey Garduño was the first.) It turns out that de'Pascal's education credentials aren't exactly what she claims, the political newcomer's latest in a line of campaign errors, including misstating how long she has lived in the district.

Not that the campaign of her rival, incumbent GOP Councilor Brad Winter, is setting the city on fire. Little positive news has been heard about Brad, just plenty of negativity about his opponent. Winter was tarnished by the negativity surrounding his losing '05 mayoral race and this council contest was seen by some of his supporters as a chance for him to burnish his image. He will win a third council term, but if he was looking to buff himself up for a run for another office, command more power on the council or position himself for superintendent of the Albuquerque public schools, this campaign has been of no help.


Veteran KOB-TV political reporter Stuart Dyson and I talked on camera about the city election this week. The video and news report are here. He also interviewed Mayor Marty who had a clever quip on that big pay raise voters are being asked to give to city councilors October 2. He said the proposal would probably only get nine votes in its favor which happens to be how many folks sit on the city council.

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