Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Million Dollar House Primary? Historic Barrier Could Be Breached, Plus: Setting The Line On The Pre-Primary Meets, And: Mariachis For Obama 

Million Dollar Man?
The stakes are getting higher in the crowded contest for the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat. Campaign operatives for restaurant chain owner and attorney Ed Tinsley confirm he recently ponied up $200,000 of personal cash for his campaign. He had told us in November he was ready to come with the money, but did not do so until after fourth quarter financial reports were filed. Combined with outside money he has raised, Tinsley has now breached the $500,000 mark, the first candidate to do so not only in the south but also in the two other open NM US House seats. And before these primaries are over, we could be headed into the financial stratosphere.

"This could be a million dollar primary...This is a large district and campaigning in all its forms has gotten more expensive," a Tinsley operative told me as I caffeined up at my neighborhood Starbucks..

Tinsley owns a ranch in Lincoln County and he and his wife also have oil interests. Throwing out the $1 million dollar figure could be seen as a ploy to intimidate other candidates, but with over half a million raised and the campaign yet to hit full stride, the figure seems entirely possible, if not probable. If it happens, we believe it will be the first time in state history that a House primary candidate has become a million dollar man.

The man looking most closely at Tinsley's ATM card is GOP Lincoln County rancher Aubrey Dunn Jr., son of the legendary former state senator of the same name. He has put up $300,000 of his own cash to take on Tinsley but has not had the same success at raising outside money. Will Dunn have to ante up even more to stay at the table?


Much of the suspense has been drained out of the March 15th pre-primary conventions that both political parities will conduct. That's because Big Bill says he will sign legislation that will allow a candidate to get on the June primary ballot even if he or she does not win 20% of the delegates at the convention. Still, there is the expectations game to play, and playing it they are.

In the south, financial big feet Tinsley and Dunn are seen easily reaching the 20% mark. If there is room for a third candidate, it will be probably be Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman or Earl Greer of T or C. As we said, if a candidate does not get the 20% they can gather extra petition signatures and still get on the ballot. The main impact of a poor showing at the pre-primary could be financial. A weak performance and potential donors may question the credibility of a candidacy. There is also the burden of history. No candidate who has failed to secure 20% of a party's pre-primay delegates has ever gone on to win the June primary.

On the Dem side for the southern district, operatives for Hobbs oilman Harry Teague are lowering expectations for his pre-primary showing, saying he will easily get the required 20% but they expect 29 year old Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley to finish first. They say that's because McCamley has been in the race and working since the middle of last year while Teague has been in just a couple of months. Still, McCamley who lags Teague significantly in the money department, will try to make some hay over any first place convention showing. And he should. The other Dem southern candidates trail far behind.


In the ABQ Dem US House contest, newcomer Jessica Wolfe, who jumped in the race only this month, says she knows she started too late to win much pre-primary support. She says she will circulate petitions to get on the June ballot.

Insiders who say they have not been blown away by Dem Martin Heinrich's campaign are now saying they think he has got it right when it comes to the pre-primary. Heinrich reportedly has had a solid ground game at the initial Bernalillo County ward and precinct meetings and the pros expect a big showing from him at the March pre-primary. That will help the former ABQ city councilor who has been battling perception problems that the looming Dem primary fight is increasing the odds of victory for likely GOP nominee Darren White.

Michelle Lujan Grisham is the other Dem US House contender seen as having a shot at a good showing among the pre-primary delegates, but the late entry of Rebecca Vigil Giron and the candidacies of the aforementioned Wolfe and attorney Robert Pidcock muddies the waters. Will any of them cross the important psychological threshold of 20%, or will they split up the votes and give Heinrich an upset?

More in the days ahead on the pre-primary convention outlook for the Senate and the northern congressional seat in the days ahead.


There's a a New Mexico connection to Vicki Iseman, the Washington, D.C., lobbyist reported to have had an improper relationship with Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain several years ago. Iseman's lobbying firm, Alcalde and Fay, has a number of NM clients, including the cities of Hobbs and Rio Rancho, New Mexico Tech in Socorro and San Juan and Sandoval counties. Iseman continues to hold a partnership at the firm. Another NM connection at the firm is lobbyist Suzanne Eisold, former chief of staff for the late NM Congressman Joe Skeen.


NM Republicans are hardening their position against any special session of the Legislature as Big Bill prepares to meet with key senate Dem leaders Thursday. The state GOP says: "For the sake of New Mexico taxpayers and small businesses, Richardson should not call a special session this year. And on the issue of health care, the state should make every effort to increase enrollment in the current health care programs available to New Mexicans, allowing the legislature to reassess our health care situation next year.”


Heather won some free media as she unloaded on rival GOP US Senate seeker Steve Pearce for what appears to be a misstatement on foreign policy. The campaign has entered the phase where the lights are shining brightly and even little slips are going to make news. That's old news to battle tested Wilson, but new territory for Pearce.


Looking for the rules on the blog "College Challenge" and that $500.00 prize we're offering? Just scroll down to Monday's blog below for all the details.


You're going to get a kick out of this. It's Mariachis for Obama--and in Texas to boot. Viva La Politica!

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