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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

From Across New Mexico: Pearce Working East: South Congress Battle Joined; Possible Front-Runner Emerges In North; More Dem Senate Fire; Let's Blog! 

Bradley
Former GOP NM Lt. Governor Walter Bradley isn't being shy about taking sides in the hotly contested US Senate primary between US Reps Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson. His name is listed prominently as a member of the newly formed "Ag for Pearce" group. Ag is short for agriculture for all you city slickers. Bradley of Clovis was mauled by John Sanchez in the 2002 NM GOP Guv primary. Shortly after, a feud broke out over control of the state GOP with Bradley and others supporting then-chairwoman Ramsay Gorham with national R's moving to push her aside. Also on the new Pearce group is State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle who represents the Clovis area.

Ag for Pearce is holding a high-dollar November 27 lunch for Pearce at the Clovis Civic Center. The southern NM congressman is working for blowout numbers on the east side to help offset Wilson's expected advantage in the ABQ metro.

But Pearce's campaign shouldn't get too cocky. We're informed that Roswell State Rep. Dan Foley and Roswell State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair are lining up for Heather. They might normally be expected to associated with the more conservative Pearce who represented their districts in Congress, but this is also a battle for the future leadership of the NM GOP and who will get to play. That makes for some interesting positioning.

TEAGUE'S TEXAS TEA

A money maven for southern NM Dem congressional candidate Harry Teague says not only did the former Lea County Commissioner raise $175,000 at a recent fund-raiser, but he has now written a personal check for $200,000 for the campaign, putting his cash total near the $400,000 level in one fell swoop. We blogged earlier of Teague's personal cash plans, pointing out that he and fellow Dem Joe Cervantes, who made his entry official Monday, both have the personal funds to dominate the nomination battle and probably will. Cervantes has not said how much, if any, of his personal agricultural based wealth he will pony up.

SHOTS FIRED
Cornelius
Meanwhile, Cervantes is already drawing fire from the other side of the aisle as young Republican, 28 year old Bob Cornelius, seeking the GOP nod for the seat being vacated by Pearce, says Cervantes' announcement Monday shows that Las Cruces attorney Joe is too closely associated with trial lawyers and he showed it.

"When you look at those who Cervantes surrounded himself with, you know what is at stake in this race. State Representatives Al Park of Albuquerque and Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, both left-wing liberal trial lawyers, do not represent our 2nd Congressional District. Cervantes flaunted his support from legislators who killed the parental notification bill, brought us the property rights infringing smoking ban and who made consistent attacks on the oil & gas industry. The results of these bills are taking New Mexico backward... We need conservtive values," declared Cornelius.

Cervantes had no comment. Also at the Cervantes announcement was House Majority Leader and trial lawyer Kenny Martinez whose House district includes part of the 2nd CD. Cervantes, Park and Martinez were ringleaders of an unsuccessful coup attempt against House Speaker Lujan last year in which Martinez lost his bid to replace Lujan.

Cornelius of Lea County is a former executive director of the Bernalillo County GOP. Restaurant owner Ed Tinsley is the other declared GOP candidate in the southern CD.

FROM THE NORTH

It appears that NM Public Regulation Commissioner Ben Ray Lujan may be edging into the front-runner position for the Dem nomination to replace Congressman Udall in the northern district. Santa Fe attorney and '06 Dem attorney general candidate Geno Zamora announced Tuesday he will not run for the position. Lujan, son of House Speaker Ben Lujan, would have been competing for Santa Fe area votes with Zamora.

Another top-tier candidate for this one is former Santa Fe County Commissioner Javier Gonzales who would have been competing with Zamora for the support of progressive Dems. Remember, current rules require 20% of the delegate vote at the March pre-primary convention. Only three or four candidates are going to be able to get on the June primary ballot. No one is officially announced yet for the northern seat as they await Udall's formal entry into the Senate race, but the serious candidates are working feverishly behind the scenes.

Ben Ray has to leave the PRC to run. Insiders speculate Zamora could take a look at that slot, even as he wonders aloud about his prospects for the 2010 Dem Light Guv nomination.

SENATE HEAT RISES

That poll released by the Udall camp showing him trouncing ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez 50% to 30% in the Dem US Senate primary prompted some quotes from the pugnacious Mayor that are not going to get hopes up for a relatively positive campaign.

“You take a tough-charging mayor against a congressman who is not known for having done anything. He’s never had the occasion to make tough decisions to offend people. You’re polling at the peak of his popularity. He’ll find that lead will evaporate like wet tissue paper.” Chavez told the Politico.

Don't expect early front-runner Udall to get into a public food fight with Marty quite yet. His surrogates will do the tough talking as Udall positions himself above the fray for as long as possible. The left-wing blogosphere is taking up Tom's cause, but it is for hard-core activists only as the personal disdain being expressed for Chavez is not going to resonate with the thousands of voters statewide who know the Mayor only through the media.

Chavez's claim that Udall is "not known for having done anything" is as over-the-top as the personal vitriol about Chavez coursing through the Internet. If the campaign devolves in the mainstream media into a hyper-negative slugfest, could it mean lower voter turnout in the June '08 primary? And would that tend to help Marty more than Tom? Just asking.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Udallites or Udallistas? We asked since we already have Chavezistas. Some of your answers.
  • "Udallites looks and sounds like a communicable disease."
  • "What is this? In New Mexico it has to be Udallistas!"
  • "They might refer to themselves as Chavezistas, but the rest of us call them Martycrats."
  • "I’m going with Udallites. Don’t you remember when St. Mo gave the sermon to the Udallites, they had fish and loaves and everything
No, I don't remember that. But with Saint Pete (Domenici) leaving, we're interested in anyone around here who is giving away free fish and loaves...

It's still not cheap, but tickets are $1000, not $2300, for the Heather Wilson for Senate fund-raiser featuring former Missouri Senator Jack Danforth. We initially said they were going for $2300...

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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