Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First TV Of Campaign Comes From Pearce, Plus: Pete Goes For McCain; Di For Hill, And: Opening Day At The Roundhouse 

A mere fifteen days into the new year Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico will be greeted this week with their first political TV ad, one of what will be hundreds of ads that will culminate in a deluge of media in October. First up is GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce, seeking the US senate nomination against fellow US Rep. Heather Wilson of ABQ. The southern NM congressman unveiled the 30 second spot Monday night at a gathering of campaign insiders held at ABQ restaurant Yanni's. Our Alligators report the state's first paid political of Election '08 shows Pearce pictured outside and talking it up with a couple. He calls for lower taxes and better border security--red meat issues for the hardcore R's who will take time to vote in the June primary.

Pearce, 60, needs the early tube time. He has little name ID in the big ABQ market where over a third of the GOP vote will come from. He remains vulnerable to being defined negatively by Wilson. By beating her to the punch on the airwaves, Pearce should have some protection from any early Heather hits. No word on the size of the Pearce TV buy.

If you're a political junkie 2008 is your Super Bowl--three open congressional seats and a US senate seat to boot. You better stop by Best Buy and get fixed up with one of those big digital, flat-screen TV's. You're gonna need it.


The man Pearce and Wilson are working to replace, NM GOP US Senator Pete Domenici, was also making news Monday. The 75 year old lawmaker endorsed Arizona Senator John McCain for the GOP presidential nomination. Yeah, it was kind of surprising as Pete and McCain have battled each other over the years. In his endorsement of the 71 year old McCain, Pete repudiated his earlier skepticism of the Iraq war, saying:

...Despite my own personal misgivings last year, Sen. McCain was, and continues to be, right on the American military surge in Iraq and the strategy outlined by General David Petraeus. John displayed the kind of courage and consistency a president must have.

Pete's endorsement won't do McCain much good in NM. The GOP primary here is June 3. Unless a rarity occurs, the nomination battle will have been settled by then. So why is Pete endorsing McCain? Maybe he is feeling liberated by not having to seek re-election. Last week he endorsed Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White in the ABQ congressional race, and later in the campaign season insiders expect him to come out for Heather Wilson. One sidelight: Domenici did not endorse fellow Italian-American Rudy Giuliani, the presidential candidate that White has endorsed.


The NM Dem prez primary--or caucus as they prefer to call it--will matter more than the R contest here. It takes place February 5, along with over 20 other D contests around the nation. And that is the problem contends attorney and former Taos County Dem party chair Helen Laura Lopez. She penned an op-ed that says the party should abandon the caucus because it could spend the couple hundred thousand dollars in better ways--like supporting the eventual nominee.

Still, the Dem caucus will go on. We have no recent polling on the race here, but Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish has made her endorsement of Hillary Clinton official. She said:

I am standing with Hillary Clinton because she will fight every day she is in the White House for our families and children. She is the candidate with the heart, record and experience to bring about the change we need."

But it's a new political day for Lady Di. State GOP executive director Adam Feldman didn't let the state's #2, an announced 2010 Dem Guv candidate, go unanswered.

“It’s no surprise that Denish endorsed Clinton--they’re cut from the same mold. Both believe in taking more money from taxpayers to expand government control...Both believe in government-run health care systems that would bust our budget and put medical decisions in the hands of a large government bureaucracy...(They are) two very liberal peas in a pod…”


There's a late starter in the ABQ congressional race. Lawyer Robert Pidcock, 50, says he is in the Dem race for the US House seat, joining Martin Heinrich and Michelle Lujan Grisham in the contest. Insiders say if Pidcock could make the June ballot he could cause a headache for Heinrich by adopting even more liberal positions than fellow liberal Heinrich. Grisham remains the sole Hispanic candidate in the race. Will that stay the case?

Down south, restaurant executive Ed Tinsley is releasing his campaign finance report for the fourth quarter of '07 a couple of weeks early because he thinks it positions him well. Tinsley says he has raised $300,000 so far--none of it his own money. When he announced his bid, he told me he would be willing to spend a couple of hundred thousand of his own cash. Financial reports for the federal candidates are due at the end of the month.

Let's steer it back north and drop in on GOP US House candidate Marco Gonzales. You have to give the former Domenici legislative aide and attorney credit for toughing it out. He made an announcement visit to Las Vegas, NM and drew only five spectators. The heavily Dem area is a tough climb for Gonzales, but he may be hitting the right tone on the Iraq war for the big D district.

“I think the war has been mismanaged and misguided, and I think getting rid of (Defense Secretary) Rumsfeld was the right thing to do. I want peace, and I would like to see our troops come home as soon as is practicable."

Marco doesn't really say much there, but he is a Republican with a markedly different tone as he battles for Dem support. His old boss Domenici sounded similar in July when he "broke" with the White House, but now is back in the fold after his Monday endorsement of hard-core war supporter McCain.


They've got the carnations and bolo ties out at the Roundhouse. Today is day one of the short, thirty day 2008 legislative session. Big Bill will deliver the State of the State address around 1 p.m. You can watch it here. Observers think he may deviate from the norm and come with a much lighter laundry list than years past. The health care reform he wants is such a complex issue that flooding the zone with too many proposals could make it that much harder to get any health bill sent up to the Fourth Floor.

With his prez campaign over, the Guv was being described as bored and ready for the legislative action. They called singer James Brown "the hardest working man in show business." If they had such an award for Governors, Bill would be a heavy favorite to win. He loves the game---at any level.

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