Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Iraq Then And Now: Congress Hopeful White Tones Down War Rhetoric, Plus: Guv & GOP Leader Embrace, And: Fixing the Cockeyed Caucus 

Darren White
It appears the campaign of ABQ GOP US House hopeful Darren White has figured out that calling for "victory" in Iraq is not the most persuasive argument to attract needed Democratic votes. When he announced his candidacy in October the Bernalillo County Sheriff had Dems jumping out of their chairs when he said: "Our troops must return in victory." Not that there's anything wrong with victory. It's just that most voters in the moderate district don't think of victory in the way White intimated. They want the war wound down, not up. It appears White's campaign has recognized their blunder because in his most recent statement on his Web site the "V word" is gone with the wind.

In October the congressional hopeful said:

"Unfortunately, mistakes have been made by those in Washington. And the Iraqi government has not stepped up like they need to. They must be pushed harder...We all want to bring our troops home. And I will work to do just that. But our troops must return in victory, because Al Qaeda must be denied a sanctuary in Iraq...

Fast forward to February:

It is critical that we deny al-Qaeda a sanctuary in Iraq, which would only provide the terrorists a safe haven to launch attacks against America. Let’s also be honest, success in Iraq involves much more than military action alone. To bring our troops home, we must implement measures of accountability, both militarily and politically...."

The war has taken on renewed importance in the ABQ congressional race because probable GOP Prez nominee John McCain has said American troops could be stationed there for 100 years--a statement the Dems are sure to try to hang around the neck of White. Because the Sheriff is most identified with the public safety and the national security, any inroads the Dems could make on the issue could be unusually rewarding. White's move to notch down the Iraq rhetoric seems to be recognition of that. It's not only Dems watching. ABQ GOP State Senator Joe Carraro is also seeking the GOP nomination.


Another prominent Republican, State House Minority Whip Dan Foley, is also looking for some room in the political middle. The controversial lawmaker faces a stiff June primary challenge from retired FBI Agent Dennis Kintigh, but Dem Guv Bill Richardson recently gave Foley some political cover as the two worked together on a Chaves county jobs issue. Foley has been criticized for jeopardizing the Chaves county economy by constantly battling with the Dems and the Guv.

The Guv has been able to placate House R's like Foley, but that has not been the case with the leaders of the Dem majority in the state senate. And they are the ones with the real power.


We carved up dinner at Yanni's the other night with veteran NM pollster Brian Sanderoff and Dem consultant Harry Pavlides as we conducted a post-mortem of the botched NM Dem Presidential caucus. There was plenty to guffaw about from that ill-fated election, but we also talked about solutions, particularly when it comes to those provisional ballots.

Sanderoff had an interesting proposal: Why don't we conduct Election Day voting like our early voting? When you go to an early voting location, there is a computer in which your name is entered. It determines what precinct you live in and what ballot you shall receive listing the offices you are eligible to vote in. If we had computers at each voting site on Election Day doing the same sorting, he argued, provisional voting would go way down. A major reason for provisional ballots is voters showing up at the wrong voting location.

"We are a state with close elections. The provisionals often come in to play, but can't be counted on Election Night. The fewer we have cast, the earlier we would know the results of the election." Sanderoff said.

Pavlides noted the Legislature would have to put up the money for the computers, but we all agreed it could be a significant step toward solving the provisional problem and restoring confidence in New Mexico elections.


Who voted for whom? And why? The AP takes an in-depth look at NM voting patterns in the Prez caucus based on exit polling.

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