Monday, November 12, 2007
Udall Vs. Chavez: We're Out Of The Gate; Tom Claims Polling Edge; Marty Sees Red--As In Those Traffic Cameras, Plus: More Cool Stuff On A Monday Blog
Udall Versus Chavez
There will be no warm-up for the race for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate. The political slugfest between Tom Udall and Marty Chavez broke out immediately after Udall's camp confirmed Saturday that the northern NM Democratic congressman will leave his safe House seat to move up the ladder and into the World's Most Exclusive Club. Despite the heft of that news--now all three NM US House seats are wide open--ABQ Mayor Chavez, the decided underdog in the contest with Udall, managed to keep his rival from having the stage all alone.
Udall's camp leaked a poll along with the the news of his run. It scored Chavez for being a weak candidate who would place the Senate seat in jeopardy for the Dems. The poll said Tom has a 20 point statewide lead over Marty among D's--50% to 30%--and that Udall would also be a much stronger candidate in a general election match-up, beating GOP US Reps Heather Wilson or Steve Pearce while a Chavez victory would be, at best, questionable. The full poll is available here.
It was so far so good for Congressman Tom. But not for long. The always aggressive Chavez struck back with a political thunderbolt--he was now considering eliminating the highly unpopular and dreaded red light cameras that dot ABQ and have been costing errant drivers millions of dollars in fines. That news topped the front page of the ABQ Journal Sunday--the state's largest newspaper--putting the Udall announcement below it and causing, we suspect, no little angst in Tom's corner.
TV news gave Udall good play on its Saturday broadcasts, but they are the least watched of the week. On one of the heaviest nights of viewing--Sunday--it was Chavez giving the red light to Tom. The Politico's coverage of the race is here. The New Mexican hits the northern angle.
THE CHAVEZ PROBLEM
The Udallites can take solace in that Chavez will have to pull many more rabbits out of his hat to overcome his unpopularity in numerous Democratic circles. A Senior Alligator of La Politica (That's one who has a minimum of 25 years experience and is at least 45 years old. Applications available only at dark and foreboding NM lounges) who has supported Chavez in the past, put it this way hours after Udall threw his proverbial hat into the ring.
...Marty's impulsive actions have troubled his supporters and make us speculate over the psychological reasons. Everyone I talk to qualifies their concern with "he is a great mayor, but..." His spitefulness will do him in. His stubbornness is legendary. Will he listen to sage advice from cooler heads? (Marty supporter) Ed Romero heads up an experienced team of political heavy weights. However, their only argument is an ethnic one which I support but Marty is the wrong brown horse to bet on. He will damage the party by staying in and fighting with Udall. He has very little chance to beat either Wilson or Pearce. It comes back to the question of what dark psychological issues are driving him. We don't really want to know..This is why my support will go to Udall.
Udall's camp, however, can't risk underestimating Chavez, a three term Mayor who is as adept as a chameleon at changing his colors, but in a memo Udall's pollsters contend: "In the Democratic primary, Udall would need to be considerably outspent for Chavez to overcome Udall's popularity and his own negatives."
Would it have to be "considerably?" How much did it cost Chavez to do a U turn on the red light cameras and garner thousands of dollars in free media across the state? Not a dime. And what about ethnic voting? There will be some and that, too, will not cost much more than a breakfast burrito.
But Udall is in the drivers seat. His polling is backed up by a nonpartisan survey we saw for Bernalillo County Dem voters and a myriad of other public polling we have reported here. His obvious challenge will be to hold strong numbers in the months ahead, as any movement downward will give Chavez the room he needs to create doubt.
Udall has played it traditional, trying to get several bites out of the announcement apple. The weekend confirmation of his run came after he announced he was "reconsidering" the Senate race and is to be followed by a formal announcement later in the month. He's off to a decent start, but with Chavez lurking he better check for worms before he takes that next bite out of the apple.
Santa Fe liberal developer Don Wiviott is going to stay in the game, but switching to a smaller pond. He confirmed our original report that he will drop out of the US Senate race now that Udall is in and become a candidate for Udall's northern House seat. He could join as many as a dozen others. But he has put up $400,000 of his own money and if he becomes the sole Anglo candidate, Don could have a shot at making the ballot at the March pre-primary convention, but he is going to have to spend that cash and maybe more. That Udall poll gave him only 2% of the Dem vote in the US Senate race.
Back here in River City, the cash well is dry for many hopefuls, including GOP State Senator Mark Boitano who withdrew from the GOP race for the ABQ congressional seat in a Sunday night e-mail before even announcing. His fellow ABQ GOP Senator, Joe Carraro, has formed an exploratory committee to see if he wants to take on favorite and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White. Joe faces the same challenge as Boitano in overcoming White--raising the cash to get the message out. Also, does Carraro want to give up his safe Senate seat? He could try to run for Congress and the Senate at the same time, but would likely run into credibility problems if he did. We will, as we are fond of saying, stay tuned.
Thanks to photog Mark Bralley for the weekend work. This is the home of New Mexico politics, and I'm Joe Monahan reporting to you from Albuquerque.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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