Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Here Come the Numbers: Heather Edges Marty; Pearce Flexes Muscle; Big Bill Still Very Big; Expert Analysis Is on The Way; The Stuff You Gotta Know
Hints of desperation started to surface in the upper tiers of the New Mexico Democratic Party Monday with the release of the first public poll in the '08 US Senate race showing ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez trailing ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson 48% to 44% and the still unavailable Big Bill crushing all comers in a mock match-up. Meanwhile, the survey showed GOP southern NM Congressman Steve Pearce performing much better against Chavez than Wilson--56% to 35% in a mock-up race--encouraging his supporters to lobby him to gamble and give up his seat and challenge Wilson for the GOP nomination.
I broke the exclusive news of the poll on our blog Monday and interviewed with KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson.
"Everyone knows this is a swing state, but a poll with Wilson ahead even after the US attorney scandal, the Iraq war and her ties to the most unpopular President in a generation set a lot of us back on our heels. She is damaged goods, but Chavez appears even more damaged. If they are the eventual nominees, the race will be very bloody and very close. This poll will only increase the pressure on Governor Richardson to get in the race if his presidential campaign doesn't get off the ground in January," offered one of our Alligators.
The Governor's numbers in the poll of 514 registered voters conducted this past Saturday and Sunday by automatic phone calling, set off a frenzy among Democrats who have been waiting over 35 years to take back the Domenici seat back. In the mock-up, Richardson crushes Wilson 62% to 35% and wastes Pearce 60% to 36%. Margin of error is plus or minus 4.4%.
"This is as close as you can get to certainty. These numbers are awesome. Bill can say he is not running for senate, and I won't argue with him, but this display of raw strength will have Democrats here and across the country clamoring for him to get in if and when the time comes," declared an activist Dem.
It's that contrast that tarnishes Chavez on his big announcement day. The ABQ Mayor can beat Wilson, but unlike Bill, he will have to heal the terrible relationship he has with the party's important left-wing and environment community. Chavez's problem is weak polling with Dems. His Hispanic numbers are not what they should be either. Wilson needs work with independent voters.
THE GUY ALREADY IN
The one candidate already in the race, Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott, made sure those liberal voters were aware that Chavez would not be sending him packing and in an email to supporters he took an indirect slap at the Mayor.
"Let me be clear: I am in this race to win..When I made a commitment to run for the U.S. Senate, I didn't accept the challenge because it would be easy or because of 'political' considerations....When no one else was willing to take on Senator Domenici, I was committed, and, today, I remain committed, " Wiviott said.
The political newcomer is predictably trounced by 25% in the polling match-up against Pearce. He loses by 17% to Wilson.
ROMANCING THE LADY
Denish (N. Mexican)
The boomlet to get Light Guv Diane Denish in the race, already a surrealistic scenario as she has never been better positioned for the governorship, grew downright bizarre as the polling numbers hit the streets. We're told one of the arguments being used to persuade her to get in the Dem Senate race is how being Governor would actually be a lousy job!
Right. The first female Governor in history and in command of the majority party in the state. What a depressing prospect. Maybe we should send Lady Di some Paxil and petition forms to get signatures for that senate run. But we don't think we'll need to.
Why would she want to roll in the mud with Marty Chavez in a senate primary and spend her days stuck in a dank room with two phones pressed to her ear trying to raise millions for a senate run? Forget the Paxil, it's enough to drive you to the Jack Daniels. Expect a statement of thanks, but no thanks from our Hobbs gal, probably by the end of Friday. Meanwhile, basking in the media sunshine is permissible.
The Light Guv was not included in SurveyUSA's polling match-ups, but she was beating Mayor Marty by 20 points in the ABQ Journal's recent match-up for the 2010 Dem Guv nomination. It's safe to assume she would give Heather and Pearce headaches, if not equal to those induced by Big Bill, certainly strong enough to have them reaching for extra-strength Tylenol.
So we wait. We wait for Marty to start doing damage repair and for Heather to do the same. (That means they start beating the crap out of each other.) We wait for Steve Pearce to decide if his time is now. Most of all, we wait for January and the conclusion of the first four Presidential primaries to see how Bill performs and how he then views a Senate race, except in his case it wouldn't be a race, but more like a coronation.
Hey, they don't call him King Bill for nothing.
NOT BAD, TOM
Does northern NM Dem US Rep Tom Udall regret ruling out a senate run before the SurveyUSA showed him with impressive numbers, easily beating Republicans Wilson and Pearce in a statewide race? He beats Heather 56% to 38%. And he scores 55% to Pearce's 37%.
Tom lost the open ABQ congressional seat in 1988 to Republican Steve Schiff, so these polling numbers have to be especially gratifying. We see him keeping his promise to stay in his comfortable House seat for years to come, but he might take the poll over to where they laminate mementos at the US Capitol. It would make a nice keepsake. Hey, he might even show it to his daughter, Amanda Cooper, who is a campaign manager for Big Bill. But only if Amanda isn't too busy running a US Senate campaign.
THE WEAK BENCH
One thing we've learned from the epic political events is that the state's political bench is about as deep as Britney Spears thinking on global warming.
The new generation has yet to emerge. "They are risk averse," asserted one thirtysomething watching from the sidelines.
He has a point, but they also are intimidated by the amount of money needed for these congressional deals, and many don't even want to try. Also limiting the number of possibles chasing these once in a lifetime open seats (OK. Maybe twice in a lifetime) is the odds of getting on the June primary ballot.
Under the law, you must win 20% of your party's vote at a mid-March pre-primary convention, If you don't make it there, you don't get on. That means there is only room for three or four serious contenders.
Back in '72, when we had the last open senate seat, we had 32 candidates file. I blogged recently it was 32 GOP candidates, but old timer Hal Hensley now living In Texas emails the complete list and it shows 25 Dem senate candidates and seven R's. Not that we want a repeat of that, but it would be nice if we had more contenders who weren't depleting the stock of Grecian formula at the corner Walgreen's.
I turn the blog floor over to ABQ City Councilor-elect Trudy Jones who says she has a little bone to pick about a recent entry.
"Your statement that I told you that I would support Mayor Chavez on major issues neglected to report my entire response: When asked if I would support legislation by the Mayor, I told you that I would support legislation by the Mayor which I believed in and that I would also support legislation presented by Council that I believed in. That is quite a different statement from saying that I would support the Mayor on “major” issues."
Well, let's wait and see how much she differs with the mayor.
WHO ELSE FOR SENATE?
Martin Chavez has taken a body blow from the initial senate polling, but so has Heather Wilson. But they both remain the front runners for their party's US Senate nominations--by default. Extensive interviews with political sources across the state produced no well-known names poised to enter, excluding of course the aforementioned Denish and Richardson. The best politicos could offer was that a wealthy business type remains a wild card, but none have yet floated their names.
THE BOTTOM LINES
State Treasurer James B. Lewis is working the phones again on the ABQ Congressional seat, now that it has no incumbent. James ran back in 1990, I believe, but lost the Dem nomination then to Rebecca Vigil-Giron...Nothing yet from Michelle Lujan Grisham. I reported that she would get in the Dem ABQ Congressional race this Thursday, but that was before Senator Domenici's retirement announcement. What's up Michelle? Do you want to play, or not?...
ABQ Dem State Rep. Al Park is another possible, Martin Heinrich and attorney Jon Adams are already in. Lobbyist Bryon Paez who was briefly in the race for a while tells me he is not tempted to get back in now that Heather is leaving the seat. "I had my taste of it," he said...
How about Dem Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg taking another look now that Heather is trying to head to higher ground? Kari would have to give up a shot at a third term as DA to do so.
Oh, I almost forgot this one. How about if Big Bill files for the US senate in February, but is then named the Dem nominee for vice-president? No problem. He can run for both, just like Senator Lieberman did with Al Gore in 2000 and Lyndon Johnson with Jack Kennedy in 1960.
One more before we go. How about Diane Denish goes to the US Senate, Big Bill is named to a cabinet post and Secretary of State Mary Herrera becomes Governor of New Mexico! Happy Halloween...
Are we having any fun yet?
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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