Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hampshire 2008: Obama Mania Set To Head West After Tonight; How Will NM React? Plus: That 20% Rule For Making The Primary Ballot 

Barack & Bill
Obama mania is set to sweep over the New Hampshire primary today and it could soon be coming to New Mexico. There's no reason to think the Illinois senator will not make his presence known here for the Feb. 5 Democratic caucuses, even if Big Bill stays in the race and declares himself a "favorite son" candidate for the state's national Democratic convention delegates. As part of "Super Duper Tuesday" the NM Dem caucus may be too important for Obama to cede to Bill as he moves to put the nomination away that day and Hillary moves to stop him. And it would seem activist Dems would relish a chance to help decide the Dem nomination and many could set aside plans to vote for Bill in favor of taking part in the main event.

It won't take much for Obama and Hillary to let you know they are around. Just $300,000 will buy a commanding 10 day presence on the TV airwaves here, chicken feed compared to what it costs in big states like California which will also be holding a primary that day.

As for Bill, he will have a decision to make. Does he get out of the Prez race after the January 19th Nevada caucuses, but declare himself a favorite son candidate and beseech NM Dems to vote for him so he can command the state's delegates at the Denver nominating convention? Or, does he pull out of the race completely, including New Mexico, and throw his support behind Barack or Hillary, or just stay neutral? Or, in the most unlikely scenario, does he stay in the race for the Feb. 5th derby, despite having no money to put up TV ads in the far-flung states and risk looking weak in the eyes of the nation and state?

Speaking of TV, Steve Terrell of the New Mexican, with the Guv in New Hampshire, reports that Bill has gone dark on New Hampshire TV. Also, insiders report four paid staffers for Senator Obama arrive in NM today.


Can you forgive us for overdosing on Obama mania and looking ahead to November? Thanks.

So what if Obama captures the Dem nod? What are the early indications on how he would play here? We put that question to veteran GOP consultant, lobbyist and political analyst Bruce Donisthorpe.

"There would be some ethnic voting based on Obama possibly being the first black President, but for all its diversity in presidential elections NM almost always ends up reflecting the national mood. 1976 was the only year since we achieved statehood in 1912 that New Mexicans voted for the loser of the popular vote. If Obama is still exciting the nation in November, the best guess is he will be exciting New Mexico. If he is in trouble nationally, expect the same here."

It is striking how our state, so different in make-up than the others, ends up being such an accurate bellwether in presidential contests. It's another of those quirks of our beloved La Politica.


Yes, we will be here tonight, just like we were in 2004, to update the New Hampshire primary results. Shortly after 5 p.m., stuff will start coming in. Check us out for the latest on Bill and the rest of the gang. On Thursday, join us for the best political analysis in the West.

20% OR Bust

If a presidential candidate in the Dem Iowa caucuses must secure 15% of the vote in a precinct to obtain "viability," why is the requirement that a NM candidate must get 20% of the vote at his party's pre-primary convention so unfair? Well, maybe it isn't. One candidate is suing to restore the right of candidates denied a spot on the June primary ballot at their pre-primary conventions to get additional petition signatures to win a place on the ballot. Supporters of the 20% rule say it keeps out frivolous candidates and also strengthens the political parties by giving them an important role in winnowing the field to a manageable number that the public can study. Critics say it gives too much power to the insider power-brokers.

Pressure is being put on NM House Speaker Ben Lujan to support reinstating the petition option for ballot access. He told us last month he did not think it was necessary, but has recently softened his tone. That's because his son, Ben Ray Lujan, is seeking the Dem nod for the northern congressional seat and is heavily favored to win.

It would take a two-thirds vote by both the House and Senate for the petition option to be restored in time for the June primary. That alone may be enough to kill the proposal, giving the courts the final word. How about an alternative? Instead of making candidates earn 20% of the pre-primary delegates, lower the number to 15%. The parties would still have a major role in screening the final candidates, but also give underdog contenders a better chance of making the ballot. Just a thought...


Monday's blog speculating that the odds have grown that Big Bill will finish out his gubernatorial term brought some varied and intense reaction. An anonymous Rio Rancho reader wrote:

As your blog today said, looks like Big Bill will finish out his term in NM after all (did we REALLY think otherwise?). But one must ask—if the Land of Enchantment is running so well with him gone for so long, why do we need him back?

But reader Rene Paradis urged Bill to hang in there.

If Obama or Clinton want Hispanic votes, and Richardson can pull in outrageously large numbers of votes from southwestern states, they may well want him for the VP ticket. I think it's too soon for him to drop out.


We were busy bees around here Monday as the Interior Department put an end to a controversial public affairs issue we had a role in. The federal agency declared that the proposal by Jemez Pueblo and Santa Fe developer Gerald Peters to build an off-reservation casino at Anthony, NM is dead. We did public relations for those opposed to the off-reservation plan. The feds said the developer's assertion that the casino would provide economic development for the pueblo didn't make sense. The casino would be nearly 300 miles away from Jemez, meaning few pueblo members would be employed at the casino. It was a spirited and multi-year battle. We enjoyed making new friends in the south and, of course, refreshing our knowledge of Southern NM politics.

Often imitated, but never duplicated, this is the home of New Mexico politics. E-mail your news and comments and let us know if they are for publication. Interested in advertising here? Just drop us a line.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign