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Monday, February 04, 2008

Goodbye Super Sunday, Hello Super Tuesday; NM Election Eve Scramble For Hill & Barack, Plus: Richardson's Prez Straddle, And: Di's Money Surprise 

The New Mexico presidential caucus campaign has been swinging like Count Basie and it isn't over yet. The Obama and Clinton campaigns today will keep the music playing. Michelle Obama puts in an Election Eve appearance in Las Cruces at 7:30 p.m. on the NMSU campus. Hillary will be back in "Town Hall" mode, putting a satellite signal into 22 "Super Duper Tuesday" cities including ABQ, where former NM first lady Clara Apodaca will host a gathering at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Both recent NM visits from the Dem heavyweights were highly successful. Obama's Friday sojourn to ABQ and Santa Fe and Hill's "Live From ABQ, It's Saturday Night!" love-in at Highland High drew impressive crowds. They charged up the Democratic Party faithful who will vote Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m. (Voter info here or at 1-800-624-2457.)

Neither campaign is predicting victory, but everyone knows a popular vote win by Obama here would be a huge upset. He has the momentum going into the final days, but Hill may have slowed it with her Saturday night shout-out.

IF NEWSPAPERS COULD VOTE

If newspapers could vote, we wouldn't have to have an election. Obama has snared the endorsements of all the biggies. The ABQ Journal, largest of the dead trees, came for the Illinois senator. Earlier, the liberal ABQ Tribune did the same as did the Los Alamos Monitor. From a political perspective, the most important newspaper nod (if any of them are important) was for Obama from Santa Fe's New Mexican. That paper reaches the Northern counties where Obama must cut down on Hillary's lead among Hispanic voters.

Obama did not have much time to put his endorsements to work, but he had time enough to slap the New Mexican's logo on one of his NM TV ads, giving him a local touch that he needs. The Clintons are well-known and, at least in traditional Dem circles, well-liked.

People around here are so hungry for change, they'll chew the stamps off of a piece of campaign literature. Give them anyone or anything different and you got them. Both Obama and Hill are offering that change, so look for both to do well here. The statewide winner gets nine of the national convention delegates. The rest are divided up based on performance in each of the three congressional districts.

THE EXPECTATIONS GAME


Is NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colòn playing the expectations game by downplaying turnout for the Tuesday NM caucus? Could be. Colòn says only 30,000 to 40,000 Dems will cast ballots, compared to over 100,000 four years ago. There was more activity in '04, but Dem antipathy toward President Bush this year is so high it has been goosing Dem turnout in the early primaries. There's no reason to think it won't have the same effect here. A turnout as low as Colòn is predicting would be a bitter disappointment, but it would probably favor Obama whose supporters seem more intense than Hillary's. If turnout goes over Colòn's lowball prediction, look for him to spin it to benefit his and the party's leadership.

We're watching the weather report for Tuesday because if the snow comes down up North so will the vote totals. Northern snow also could help Obama as Hillary is favored among Hispanic voters. Right now the election forecast calls for some blustery weather and cold temps in Santa Fe. Never mind those robo calls and TV spots, watch the thermometer for the real turnout story.

SPEAK NO EVIL

On the subject of TV spots, have you noticed that there has not been any "negative" ads? Both Obama and Clinton have kept it on the high road. What a pleasant respite from the norm. We'd like to tell you it will last all year, but it won't.

TWO BILLS, BUT NO HILL

Big Bill shared his Super Sunday with ex-President Clinton, quaffing, we presume, finely distilled beverages while watching the annual pigskin match-up that captivates the country. This party, the Guv's spinners insisted, was not an endorsement of Hillary. Then what was it? Well, the Obama camp didn't need a Navajo code talker to see that Bill was cuddling with the Clintons, and gobbling up 10 p.m. Sunday night news time.

But it will be Hill, not Bill, commanding the White House if things go her way, and as much as former Prez Bill would like to have the boys over for Tuesday night West Wing poker parties, it ain't gonna happen. So our Big Bill has an in with the Really Big Bill. That's nice, but it's the chill with Hill that needs to be deiced. So why not throw her a pass on Super Sunday, rather than staying on the sidelines and pretending to root for both teams? We have a feeling that if Hill takes the Prez prize she's going to go first to those who actually got in the game. Maybe that will happen with our Bill before the voting starts, but the game clock is ticking down.

DI'S DOLLARS

While Big Bill tries to straddle the fence, or have a Clinton talk him down, New Mexico's #2, Light Guv Diane Denish, is all in for Hillary. If Hill loses the battle, Di takes a dive, but if she wins, there will be a nice payout and maybe even some extra pork barrel projects around here.

Denish is also all in for the 2010 Dem nomination for Guv. Since she sat on a Governor Richardson ethics task force that has called for numerous reforms to clean up state politics, she has decided to regularly report her campaign contributions to avoid the hypocrite label. She has done that, but a perusal of her latest report contains some eyebrow raising material. Denish accepted $7500 in campaign money from tobacco companies Altria (parent company of Phillip Morris) and RJ Reynolds. This, from the Light Guv who has made universal health care and child health care centerpieces of her political platform. Lady Di is currently unopposed for the nomination, but that tobacco money could create some political smoke for her.

Denish reported she now has raised nearly $1.4 million after taking in $284,000 in the final three months of '07. Di is scarfing up huge money from oil interests in her hometown of Hobbs. The SE NM community has been in a raging bull market as oil prices stay higher than the treetops. Denish took in $5,000 a piece from Lucky Services and Lucky Tool Rental. And that is just the tip of the drilling bit.

One of her biggest contributions came from the CR Property Fund of San Francisco which kicked in $15,000. The Guv's ethics task force has called for limiting campaign contributions and a bill is pending before the Legislature. While Denish is fine with giving up who is giving her money, she is not willing to slap a limit on how large a check she will take. Nor are many other politicos, so don't look for a limit law anytime soon.

THE CARGO CONSPIRACY


Believe me, we were not involved in a conspiracy to conceal former NM GOP Governor Dave Cargo's identity in a Bralley photo we ran Friday. It pictured Dave in the background with ex-President Clinton at Johnson Gym at UNM Thursday and we received a bunch of e-mail about it. I dialed up Dave who told me he is not supporting Hillary's prexy bid, but went to see Clinton at the invitation of some Dem friends, including ABQ politico Ted Martinez. By the way, Cargo now says he is not endorsing Steve Pearce for the GOP Senate nomination even though he introduced the southern NM congressman at his announcement event in October. Cargo says Heather Wilson, Pearce's rival for the GOP nod, is mad at him for helping Pearce, but he isn't endorsing her either. Now you know why they call him "Lonesome Dave."

THE BOTTOM LINES

Some clean-up from our Friday monster blog. Radio ads cut by Light Guv Denish and paid for by her PAC, do not endorse a candidate in the Tuesday caucus, but encourage turnout. We initially said they urged a vote for Hillary...Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies (POS) in Alexandria, VA. e-mails in that the Alligator who provided details Friday on that US GOP Senate poll was off on one detail. "We tested the Summit Group's capabilities once two years ago and have not used them since. We are NOT a client of the Summit Group." The author of the poll is still unknown to us, but we are told it was commissioned by the NM GOP. It showed Pearce leading by five points--38% to Wilson's 33%.

Finally, the cool photo we ran Friday of six year old Megan Montoya getting the attention of ex-Prez Clinton showed Megan's grandmother Liz. We identified Liz as the mother of Megan and wife of biz consultant David Montoya. As we said, Liz is Megan's grandmother and Montoya's mother. The family e-mailed in that they laughed a good part of the day over that one. We cringed.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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