Tuesday, January 29, 2008

With One Week To Go, The Prez Cup Runneth Over; Barack & Ted Set Visit; Hill, Bill & Chelsea Expected, Plus: Race Analyzed, And: Latest House Action 

Dem Chairman Colòn
The blitz is on. TV ads, door-to-door canvassing, phone banks and in-person visits planned by the top two Dem presidential contenders are all part of the state political landscape as the clock ticks in earnest towards the February 5th caucus. And it wasn't even supposed to matter. But when Governor Richardson dropped out of the White House race and neither Senators Obama or Clinton had put the race away, our state and the measly 26 delegates that will be selected to the Dem National Convention next Tuesday suddenly mattered. A NM appearance is expected on Friday by Senator Obama. Senator Ted Kennedy who endorsed Obama on Monday is also slated for a NM visit. Obama will apparently hit both ABQ and Santa Fe. Initial national media reports had the two senators traveling NM together.

Ex-President Clinton wings in here Thursday for an ABQ-Santa Fe stop. Our Alligators say his visit will include a big money bash Thursday--$2300 a pop--at the Santa Fe home of Steve Moise, an attorney with long ties to the state Democratic Party. Hillary is rumored to make a Land of Enchantment touch down Saturday, but no confirmation yet. A Clinton insider says the campaign is working on bringing Clinton daughter Chelsea into Las Cruces this weekend.


Despite all the excitement, we need to revisit the original turnout projections bandied about here that put the number at 100,000 of the over half-million plus registered Dems. State Party chair Brian Colòn says he would be happy to get 40,000 turning out because the grass roots efforts being made by the candidates pales when compared to what was done for the NM Prez caucus four years ago. Then, over 100,000 made it to the special voting sites. An absentee vote total of under 6,000 supports the chairman's view. We had nearly 20,000 early votes in '04.

"They spent in the neighborhood of $2 million last time to get the vote out. That kind of money has not been seen this time around." Colòn said.

We could get a pop, however, from the sheer closeness of the battle between Hill and Barack. Dem voters here will have a real say, along with the other 21 Dem "Super Duper Tuesday" states, on who will be the nominee. Their vote matters. (Dems can find out where to vote here.)


One of the unanswered questions of Caucus '08 is if and when Big Bill will endorse one of the contenders. We blogged here a week or so ago that insiders were saying that he would indeed, but he still hasn't and some politicos are saying he will not, choosing to play it safe. The Guv's back is somewhat against the wall. If he wants a big national job with the next Dem White House, he may have to come with an endorsement. Don't you think others who want jobs and who are influential in other February 5th states aren't placing their bets as they position themselves for future goodies? If Richardson endorsed a candidate and that person lost New Mexico, it would be a blow to his prestige, but it wouldn't hurt him much politically. He will never again run for political office in the state. (That last sentence is strange to say.)

Other insiders are watching to see how many votes Governor Bill gets next Tuesday. His name, along with other Prez candidates who have dropped out of the race, will still be on the caucus ballot. If he somehow managed to get 15% of the vote in one of the three congressional districts or in the statewide total, he would be awarded convention delegates, something that eluded him when he ran in Iowa and New Hampshire before dropping out.

Bill getting 15% may be a long shot and a novelty story, but we do know Clinton and Obama will easily cross the 15% threshold and each will win a share of the 26 delegates up for grabs. There are no recent public polls, but veteran NM politicos seem to have a consensus view that Clinton, despite Obama's South Carolina win and the Kennedy endorsement, maintains an edge here.

"I do think Hillary has an edge. She is a known quantity. Her husband carried the state twice, and she has important support among establishment Hispanics," commented talk radio host Mike Santullo, a Clinton supporter and longtime NM Dem politico.

Obama has picked up Hispanic support in the progressive wing of the state Dem party. His campaign hopes Ted Kennedy can help him peel away some of the so-called "regular Dems" here.

Will this be the last early NM Dem Prez caucus? Perhaps. It is costing a quarter of a million to put on--a lot of money for a state with only a handful of delegates to hand out. "There will definitely be debate about it," said Chairman Colòn noting he has been busy dialing for dollars to finance all the excitement.


A reliable Gator tells me former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron is planning a formal entry into the fight for the Dem nod for the ABQ congressional seat this Saturday. Can she raise the money to compete? Probably not. Could she get the 20% of the delegates at the March 15th pre-primary to get a place on the June ballot? Hard to tell. Would her getting a place on the ballot hurt the chances of Michelle Lujan Grisham, the other Hispanic candidate in the race? Probably so. Would running give Vigil-Giron some additional name ID as she prepares to run for the Dem lieutenant governor nomination in 2010? Yes. Are her chances pretty muddy for that contest? Yes.

Hobbs oilman Harry Teague has established himself as the man to beat for the Dem nomination for the Southern congressional seat, so why not release your federal financial report a couple of days early? He has. It shows Teague with $362,000 in cash on hand at year's end and having raised over $408,000, including $200,000 he personally put up. That is a considerable kitty and will put pressure on Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley, the other name candidate in the contest.


Secretary of Sate Mary Herrera is on the Hillary bandwagon. She officially endorsed Hill Monday. Benny Shendo, former cabinet secretary for the NM department of Indian Affairs and now a Dem candidate for the northern congressional seat, will today endorse Obama. NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici will give a farewell speech to a joint session of the Legislature on February 4th at 11 a.m.

We had e-mail reaction to our blog Monday on passage of the controversial domestic partners bill in the state House. We noted two Republicans, Justine Fox Young and Kathy McCoy, voted for the bill and against their party's line. The measure passed by two votes. ABQ GOP State Rep. Eric Youngberg did not vote, but said he would have probably voted for the measure which his party claims is a gateway to gay marriage. Reader Virginia Stephenson chimes in:

When Republicans are noticed to have voted for gay rights, why is the comment always about the incredulity of Republicans voting pro-gay rights, rather than the courage and integrity of certain Republicans to vote their conscience. And where do you see that the Bill will fail in the Senate? Last year it failed by ONE vote. It promises to be as close this year.

Thanks Virginia. If you have some news or comments, we look forward to reading them in our e-mail.

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