Monday, December 17, 2007

Congress Candidate Adams Pulls Switcheroo; Will Run Up North, Plus: Where The Races Stand; Darren's D.C. Party, And: The Monday Bottom Lines 

Jon Adams is pulling the plug on his campaign for the Dem nod for the ABQ Congressional seat, but the 33 year old former NM assistant attorney general isn't a campaign casualty--not yet. He says he will now run for the Dem nomination for Congress in the Northern district. "This is a better fit for me. Many members of the Democratic Party Central Committee seem to be behind Martin Heinrich, and the Northern district needs a Udall Democrat in the race," Adams explained.

Adams was raised in Los Alamos. He was an assistant AG under Udall who served two AG terms before getting elected to the House in '98. For several years Adams has been practicing law in ABQ. He says he will move to Santa Fe and live in an apartment.

Former City Councilor Heinrich is vying for the Dem nod for the ABQ seat along with attorney and former cabinet secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham. High school math teacher Jason Call is also in the running. Adams is making his first run for office and was appealing to the same progressive wing of the Dem party as Heinrich. However, the political unknown was not expected to slow Heinrich who is positioned to easily score the necessary number of delegates at the March 15 preprimary ballot to win a position on the June primary ballot. But Adams' entry in the Northern race could impact another progressive--Santa Fe green developer Don Wiviott. He is the sole Anglo liberal in the race, and is without the same assurance as Heinrich of winning a spot on the June ballot. Adams could pose a complication for the wealthy businessman who has already put up over $300,000 of his own cash.


All of the declared Dem 3rd CD candidates--Adams, Wiviott and Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya--(Bennie Shendo is not in yet)--share a common problem--Public Regulation Commission Chairman Ben Ray Lujan. He is the leading Dem contender for the Northern contest. That reality is owed in no small part to the fact that he is the son of powerful state House Speaker Ben Lujan. As he entered the fray up North, Adams took a mild swipe at the frontrunner: "People want someone to run on the record of their own accomplishment." He declared.

Ben Ray made a splash as he entered the race at the Roundhouse Friday. His announcement drew about 150 supporters and wall-leaners, including a couple of state legislators. Don't expect Lujan the Younger to put any space between himself and his famous father. The association is going to help him more than hurt him, especially in the early innings.

Adams says he is mulling over whether to make a $100,000 personal commitment to the Northern race, but says winning a position on the June primary ballot is not necessarily a money game. He said connecting personally with the several hundred preprimary delegates who will decide the fate of the candidates' is key. In that regard, Ben Ray is seen as having an overwhelming advantage. But he's not going to get them all. There is a chance for someone else to collect the required 20% delegate support and be on that June ballot to challenge Ben Ray. It is that race that Adams, Wiviott and Montoya are in right now. For them, Election Day is March 15.


Heinrich is the perceived frontrunner for the Dem preprimary convention in the 1st CD and is expected to finish first among those seeking ballot positions. But after that the picture is more muddled. Take, for example, a November 8 automatic telephone poll into over 1500 registered Dem households in the district that the Alligators have made available for you. It shows Heinrich winning 22% support. But a Hispanic candidate completely unknown to the public wins 20% in the poll. Over 40% were undecided. That's why the pros are watching this one closely. So far, Lujan Grisham is the sole Hispanic in the race. Can she consolidate the Hispanic vote? Can she raise the money to compete? Can Heinrich expand beyond his liberal base? Until those questions are answered, the battle for the Democratic nomination in the First Congressional District remains a battle.


Meanwhile, Republican Darren White, the favorite to take the GOP nod for the ABQ House seat, is counting his money from a meet and greet conducted on his behalf by NM GOP US Senator Pete Domenici. We broke the news of the December 5 event last month, pointing out that Pete was not formally endorsing Darren, but hosting the party comes pretty close. D.C. Alligators tell us about 30 or so power players showed for Darren's Capitol Hill debut. We are told they kicked in at least $500 a piece which would put the day's haul at about $15,000.

White is being challenged for the nomination by ABQ State Senator Joe Carraro, who upon reading our piece about Domenici and Darren, called the Senator's office saying he wanted Pete to host a similar function for him. So far nothing is scheduled. Cararro is the type of candidate who can live off the fat of the land. His chances of coming out of the preprimary convention with the required 20% of the delegates to make the June ballot appear reasonable. But he will still need TV and direct mail to pull an upset against White, and that will cost money. Can he raise some? Stay tuned.


Joe and Darren won't have to worry about ABQ NE Heights State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones getting in the Congressional race. As expected, she announced Sunday she is a no-go. "After a thorough review of the challenges involved and very brief but intense fundraising, I have concluded that this is not the time for me to seek election to the 1st Congressional District." So said Arnold-Jones who will seek re-election to her state House seat.


ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez isn't running for anything right now, but that isn't stopping one group from airing an anti-Marty radio ad. The ad, to run 100 times on several stations this week, including 770 KKOB-AM, fault the mayor for fostering "urban sprawl." The ad comes from the Southwest Organizing Project, (SWOP) a longtime Chavez foe...

Doug Turner runs a public relations firm, not an ad agency as we stated recently. We must have been thinking of Doug's role in the Guv campaigns of Republican Gary Johnson in the 90's and how he helped engineer some effective TV ads. Another veteran of NM politics, Tom Carroll, is president of the well-known company which has been talking with potential investors about buying the ABQ Tribune. Will there be a Trib deal? Turner tells me he will have news as soon as today or Tuesday.

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