Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How's Heather? We Update, Plus: Even More US Senate Action; Is Big Bill Really Out Of It? And: TV Anchor Carla Aragon Prepares Final Sign-Off 

You're going to be seeing more than your fair share of these in the coming months--invitations to high dollar soirèes sponsored by the top-tier candidates vying for three open US House seats and a Senate seat to boot. The one posted here (click for detail) is from ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson who hasn't exactly been in hiding, but her rival for the GOP Senate nod, Rep. Steve Pearce, has had most of the limelight since the duo announced they will both seek the seat being vacated by Pete Domenici. Heather is ready to pick up the pace, with a D.C. fundraiser this week featuring Veep Dick Cheney and the $1000 a pop party featuring former Missouri Senator John Danforth.

Insider R's say Wilson will follow in Pearce's shoes and conduct a 16 stop "listening tour" of the state in coming weeks, looking to shore up support outside of her ABQ base and where Pearce is strongest. For his part, the southern NM congressman who did a nine stop announcement tour, spent most of the weekend in ABQ trying to invade Heather's base. It will be just one of many weekends in which Pearce will camp out in the state's population center.

On the Dem side of the Senate battle, ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez continues to do all he can to dominate the scene before US Rep. Tom Udall officially joins the race. Tonight at 6 p.m. Chavez is hosting an online town hall meeting. Here's a link to participate in the event at which Chavez will field questions from Internet viewers.


Meanwhile, what's good for the R's is good for the Democrats. Udall is apparently going to take a tour of the state ala Heather and Steve after he makes his formal entry, according to one of his political associates. One of the fun things to look forward to in this campaign is seeing Tom and Marty wearing cowboy hats while they campaign in Hobbs. Ride 'em, boys.

Udall is telling would-be staffers to contact his daughter Amanda, deputy campaign manager for Big Bill's Prez run, if they are interested in working for his Senate bid.

And is it Udallites, or Udallistas? Or something else? As our friends at Fox News would say: "You decide." Chavezistas is a keeper for Marty's backers, so we think Udallistas is out, but we'll call them anything they want, and probably some things they don't.


And what about Big Bill? Does Udall's entrance mean we have seen the Guv's definitive exit from the Senate race? There are still some hold-outs, but the consensus seems to be that he is highly unlikely to get in this one. Squashing both Udall and Chavez would be pretty unseemly, and leave Udall up the creek without a paddle. If Bill went for Senate and Tom decided to turn back he would be looking at a line of wanna-be Congress folk who had been out campaigning and raising money. Still, the hold-outs are hard core. They say Richardson never closes any option, and what fun is politics anyway if you can't screw your friends? And you thought you might be too cynical!


State Rep. Joe Cervantes entered the Dem race for the southern congressional seat last night in Las Cruces. The Sun-News has a report. Former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague is also now off and running.


A rare departure among the mainstays of NM TV news anchordom had the media mavens on high alert Monday. Carla Aragon announced she will leave KOB-TV at the end of the month. No replacement has been announced, but insiders say auditions have been taking place and include out-of-state prospects. Aragon said she is leaving on good terms and is not being pushed because of ratings or other reasons. Insiders did not dispute that take.


Carla Aragon delivered the news to New Mexicans with an elegant simplicity that leavened the daily blow of complexity and mayhem that is served in heaping portions by the major ABQ television stations. Her long and fruitful run as lead anchorwoman for KOB-TV will end November 30 as the Santa Fe native concludes an over 30 year career in media and a 13 year stint as nightly news co-anchor with Tom Joles.

It was beauty mingled with verbal agility that was the original catapult for Aragon's career, but poise and persistence ensured its longevity. Just a few years after starting as a host for a 1979 infotainment show on KOB, she found herself at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, America's #2 TV market, beginning an 11 year run hosting the morning show, "Today In L.A." That was when the "Big Time" was really the big time, with cable TV in its infancy and no Internet. Pretty heady stuff for the Aggie grad who got her introduction to media from her uncle and radio station operator George Gonzales.

Carla, now 52, made her way home and into the KOB anchor chair in the early 90's where she has held forth since with an air of calm amid the chaos that is a modern day newsroom. From that scene Monday, Aragon, still choked up from a speech to her colleagues announcing her departure, told me "the baby boomer bug" to seek "more significance, not just success" was a major reason she will leave her anchor chair. She will continue working, most immediately on a children's bilingual education book, but the final chapter of her TV news career is now history and she and her husband will share more time in Los Ranchos.


Ratings, always of paramount concern in the profit crazy TV game, appeared to play no role in her leaving. Like a rare few, she achieved near iconic status with her audience which saw in her an extension of the state's ancient culture and a role model for young Hispanic women. "I've been able to explain things, to give a sense of history about New Mexico because I grew up here," she explained.

Fortunately, it won't be the constant parade of gruesome car crashes and killings that will hold sway in her memory banks. "The stories I am most proud of are of the native New Mexican culture--the curanderos, the penitentes. The stories that I will remember the most are the ones that dealt with the everyday struggles of ordinary people," she reflected.

Watching Carla Aragon anchor the news was a reminder, that despite the growing homogeneity of our modern culture, you were in a special place--New Mexico. We wish her well in her quest for significance, but argue that she's already attained a measure of it from her high-profile perch in our Enchanted Land. Que tengas suerte, Carla.

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