Monday, September 24, 2007
Bloggin' With Big Bill Gets Us Thinkin', Plus: Partying With Pearce; Who Wasn't There? And: Your Free Meal Ticket Is Right Here
Ever wonder what Big Bill would be like on Prozac? I think I found out Friday night as the at-home and at-ease Presidential hopeful effortlessly entertained some ardent supporters at a late summer rally on pastoral grounds in the heart of ABQ's South Valley.
It had been a while since I had been on the trail so I had the Alligators comp me a $25 ticket to Joe and Kathy Duffy's Bill bash. It was a chance to take the measure of the man who is taking New Mexican politics where it has never gone before. Besides keeping intact an enviable 35 year old record of never paying to get into a political event, the occasion reinforced my ambiguity about what this governorship has meant and what it will ultimately mean to our future politics.
Richardson, like most of us, is at his best among friends. Friday night with no strangers to impress or convince, he displayed the cool confidence of a happy warrior, repeatedly sporting a mischievous and familiar grin as he hit his humor lines. After nearly thirty years of exposure his image has been ingrained in our collective consciousness as deeply as green chile or the ubiquitous Zia symbol. Gone is the slightly tentative congressman who returned in 2002 to seek the Governor's chair, but who had to reacquaint himself with the state he adopted in early adulthood to use as a political stepping stone.
But if Richardson has staked an irrevocable claim on New Mexico, so too has this place on him. "When I am driving through the cornfields of Iowa at 10:30 at night and going to meet six people, I think back to 1980 when I ran for Congress against Manuel Lujan and how it was that way then, too. I draw on that experience," related the Governor.
Richardson has always believed in himself. And he believes in his politics. The ambiguity arises when you contemplate his belief system. What are the ideas he holds absolutely dear, the bedrock principles upon which this consequential career is built? And if we can't answer that question today, what will finally be the Richardson legacy? That "he got things done?"
Watching Richardson as he puts himself through his paces like a seasoned thoroughbred rounding the bend, I think I am witnessing a politician who is important to his time and probably the time to come, but I need time and distance to say precisely why.
Back in the moment, there are backs to slap, laughs to be had and photos to be snapped. The parade goes on.
BETTER THAN NONE
A weekend New York Times piece highlighting where the Dem Prez candidates stand at this point gave only one line to Big Bill, but it was a pretty good one: " Though these three candidates (Hillary, Obama and Edwards) have dominated the race, there are signs that Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico has made inroads."
The polls in the Prez race have become somewhat static for all the contenders, something expected as we prepare for the final Iowa onslaught when voters are forced to make up their minds at the critical January 14 caucuses. Imagine the media bombardment to come.
Most national analysts echo the Times' viewpoint--that Richardson has made inroads--and are impressed that the relative unknown has managed to hold on to double-digit polling numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire against much better known rivals and despite his numerous campaign gaffes.
New Mexico Dems are keenly aware that the Guv is a long shot for the nomination, but in a recent poll 55% of them felt he would end up as the party's Veep selection. By hanging just behind the Big Three, Big Bill is keeping alive that prospect, as well as his chances to become the USA's next Secretary of State or a NM US Senator. Capturing that Prez nomination will require a combination of serendipity and the sky falling on one or more of the front runners. But you already knew that...
Working to boost his fundraising numbers before the next money reports September 30, Big Bill's campaign tonight is serving up his key aides to contributors willing to pony up a donation of $2300, the maximum federal law allows for the Prez primaries.
Those attending the Santa Fe "max out party" at the home of businesswoman Diana MacArthur will get briefings from Bill campaign manager Dave Contarino, his finance Chair Ed Romero and pollster Paul Maslin. Do you suppose they will tell those attending that to get the Guv in the top tier of candidates they need to raise even more money?
PARTYING WITH PEARCE
Pearce & Murphy
It was who wasn't there rather than who was that had the tongues wagging at Friday night's big Chaves county fundraiser for GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce. State House Minority Whip Dan Foley and his political cohort, State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair, were not among the 100 mingling members of the Roswell establishment as it raised $70,000 for Pearce's re-election kitty.
It was not a huge surprise as Foley and Adair have been at odds with Roswell oilman Mark Murphy who co-hosted the bash at his new offices. Murphy openly backed a primary opponent in 2006 against State Rep. Nora Espinoza, a close ally of Adair's.
The Foley-Adair faction has seen better days. Foley is entangled in a nightmarish court case in which he is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting police arrest. Adair, while seemingly safe for reelection, has to look over his shoulder for a possible primary opponent.
Pearce has tried to stay neutral in this factional warfare which features the moderate Republicanism of Murphy and company contrasted with the hard-right approach of Foley and Adair, but the battle may be as much about how one conducts politics as it is about policy.
Pearce insiders report the congressman is tired of the fighting. They say his operatives believe Foley and Adair were responsible for a back door attack on one of the co-hosts of Friday's Pearce fundraiser. Pearce would like to see the infighting resolved, but he may have to step up and help make it happen, something Senator Domenici and other GOP leaders have been reluctant to do.
There 's an old-fashioned way to win the hearts of voters--through their stomachs. And that's just what Democratic US Senate contender Don Wiviott is doing. The Santa Fe developer has invited assorted Dem party players to a free dinner at ABQ's Ladera Golf Course Tuesday night. One hungry activist calls it a "blessed event," but did not disclose what was on the menu. Wiviott can afford good chow. He has seeded his campaign for the right to take on GOP Senator Pete Domenici with $400,000 of his own cash. That's enough for a whole lot of posole.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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