Thursday, November 08, 2007

Senate Race Rouses Old Lions; Anaya & Apodaca Endorse Chavez Senate Bid, Plus: Jose Campos: Did He Fool The Gators? He Announces US House Bid 

Ex-Guvs Apodaca & Anaya
Forget the Internet, the glib TV commercials and the slick direct mail pieces. When it comes to the race for the first open New Mexico US Senate seat in 35 years, we're going Old School. That means hand-to-hand combat, behind the scenes movidas and raw ethnic politics. Wednesday we got a taste of it as two former Governors were roused from a long political hibernation and issued an unexpected endorsement of ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez in his bid for the 2008 Democratic Senate nomination.

Toney Anaya (1983-87) was blatant in his reasoning. "Chavez is a native son who understands the issues that are unique to our state." He declared.

Jerry Apodaca (1975-78), doubling up with Toney, said: "Chavez has demonstrated his strong leadership and administrative skills as Mayor."

Their message was aimed squarely at northern NM Congressman Tom Udall who is considering joining the battle for the Dem nod. They seemed to say if Udall comes he ought to prepare for warfare for the hearts of the native New Mexican families that have held forth here for four centuries. It doesn't get more Old School than that.

Anaya, 66, left the governor's office deeply unpopular and it could be argued his endorsement isn't worth much. That would be on the mark for a general election in which Republicans and Independents can vote, but we're talking about a Democratic primary. Anaya of Moriarty handed out a lot of jobs and patronage and many of those folks, almost all Dems, are still around. Apodaca, 73, of Las Cruces did not leave the Fourth Floor in bad shape and also has friends who may take a second look at Chavez after hearing from the former Governor.


Chavez needs the help. He has alienated many in the Spanish north by leaning right while ABQ mayor. Some of the discontent goes back to when he was in the State Senate in the early 90's. Chavez may be unable to personally mend many of those fences. He will need supporters like Anaya and Apodaca to start doing the repair work.

Congressman Tom has represented the northern district since '98, garnering huge majorities among Hispanics and Native American who comprise a majority of the population there. He is positioned nicely with them and unless Chavez succeeds in bringing them home, he is a goner.

There has been no Hispanic in the five member NM congressional delegation since Bill Richardson left the northern seat in '98 to join the Clinton administration. The last Hispanic US Senator was Joe Montoya who was defeated in 1976. The most legendary NM US Senator is Dennis Chavez who died in ‘62 and whose statue is on display at the US Capitol.

Udall and Chavez both graduated from exclusive law schools. Udall from Cambridge in England; Chavez from Georgetown in D.C. But if they run against each other, they can forget what they learned at those elite campuses. This Senate race is a fight for La plebe--the people-- and it's going to be Old School all the way.


The Alligators are rarely wrong, but they aren't perfect and the e-mail came in Wednesday jabbing the slithery creatures for their assessment here this week that Dem State Rep. Jose Campos wasn't really serious about running for the southern NM US House seat. It turns out that Campos was more serious than they may have thought as he publicly announced that he will seek the Deem nomination for the seat being vacated by Republican Steve Pearce who is running for US Senate.

Rep. Campos's brother, Paul Campos, piled on the Gators and emailed: "As Joe’s brother, I can tell you that Joe is really running. Joe’s style is to run hard! He is already doing it. Joe Cervantes knows this."

The aforementioned Cervantes is Doña Ana State Rep. Joe Cervantes who appeared to be the sole major Hispanic candidate prepared to get into the southern race--until now.

The Alligators forced us to blog (really, they did) that Campos could be toying with an entry just to needle Cervantes because he opposed House Speaker Lujan for re-election to his leadership position.

Now that Campos says he is in the race, several of the Gators are still prodding us to ask him if he is going to publicly announce that he is giving up his State House seat to make the congressional run or will he delay that decision? A delay, they claim, buttresses their original thinking that Campos is not all in. (Alligators are known for their persistence.)

Campos is chairman of the House Voters and Elections Committee and if he stayed in the Legislature would be a major player in the 2011 redistricting of the legislative and congressional seats, but only if he stays around. If he gives up His Santa Fe seat and were to lose a Congress bid, he would remain mayor of Santa Rosa.

Paul Campos said he will ask Jose about that State House seat and report back. If Jose does give it up maybe another Campos will step forward to run for it. The district includes parts of Guadalupe, De Baca, Curry and Roosevelt counties. Meanwhile, I'll hold off punishing the Gators, but am preparing a vegetarian diet for them--but only if Campos says he is not seeking re-election to the Roundhouse--and it sticks. Stay tuned.


If we're learning anything in this historic period in New Mexican politics it's that patience is not necessarily a virtue. Congressman Udall delays a decision and Chavez starts firing bullets; Rep. Cervantes delays getting in and Jose Campos beats him to the punch. Sometimes when you want to lead, you have to start leading.


There was some delicious irony around here Wednesday when e-mail came in pointing out that the link we had provided for the campaign finance report of Light Guv Diane Denish was a dead link. Di's team had proudly announced that she was voluntarily releasing a report on her fund-raising for the 2010 Governor's race even though none was required.

The problem has since been corrected. (Here's the report.) But you wonder if someone in Santa Fe is going to think this is a clever idea--pass a bill requiring tougher disclosure, but leave it up to the politicos to decide where it's disclosed. Actually, that would be a tougher law than the one have now. As they say, "Only in New Mexico...."


There is another Democratic candidate for the 2010 Dem Guv nomination. We blogged Wednesday that Diane was the only one, but we were reminded by astute reader Stephanie DuBois: “Carlos Provencio is an announced candidate for Governor from Silver City. He was the Grant County Democratic chair and recently stepped down to run for Governor. Talked with him Saturday at the State Central Committee meeting as he was passing out his literature.”

Alright, Carlos. We'll try not to forget you and the 2010 race, but with what's going to be happening in the next year, we can't make any promises...Big Bill is moving more troops to Iowa. This time from South Carolina. Looks like it's all Iowa all the time for the New Mexican who would be President...

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