Friday, February 29, 2008

Summer Special Session Shifts Political Equation, Plus: First US House Candidate Takes To Tube, And: Still Looking For Caucus Anwers 

Sen. Jennings
Big Bill probably bought himself some political cover when key state senators (Sanchez, Jennings, Smith & Ingle) agreed to form "bipartisan, executive-legislative working groups" to craft a universal health coverage plan and meet in special session sometime "this summer." Until now, health care reform has been identified as solely a gubernatorial inititative. Now the fingerprints of the Legislature will also be on it.

If we get a plan both sides can live with, there will be credit given all the way around. If the effort implodes as it did during the regular legislative session, Richardson can convincingly point at the Legislature as they prepare to face voters in November. But lawmakers are not without protection. They could come with a plan that is much less than what Richardson wants. If he rejects it, they could say: "We've done the best we can in a shaky economy. Sorry the Guv doesn't see it our way."

Lawmakers had little choice but to sign up with Bill. Not doing so so would make them look obstructionist and obvious targets of key Dem constituencies. It seems Richardson is starting to recover from his post-presidential malaise.

That's the politics of the matter. The details of the complicated plan are another. Richardson will have to win support from the medical establishment as well as more public support. Voters want a health care solution, but Obama and Clinton are sucking all the oxygen out of the room, lessening the urgency for action at the state level.

Richardson wants universal health care as a major legacy. By getting lawmakers to the table, he is closer than he was when the legislative session ended two weeks ago, but there are still many miles to travel.


Wealthy Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott is glad to change the subject after mud wrestling all week with northern Democratic congressional rival Jon Adams over the validity of his nominating petitions. Wiviott did just that Thursday, unveiling two TV ads aimed at boosting his name ID and corralling northern Dems who are strongly against the Iraq war.

Wiviott has kicked in $300,000 of his own money to get his campaign started. He faces long odds against favorite Ben Ray Lujan. The political newcomer did not say how much he is spending on his TV ads, but our insiders expect Wiviiott to stay on the tube for the duration of the primary campaign. Once his name ID is established in six to eight weeks, they then expect him to look at polling to help determine how negative he will need to get against Ben Ray.

Wiviott is the first US House candidate to hit the tube. Senate candidate Steve Pearce was the first congressional hopeful with a TV buy, going up in mid-January.


Speaking of Pearce, state GOP executive director Adam Feldman is ready to give you the official word on the state party poll numbers floating around in Pearce's contest for the GOP US senate nomination with ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. He says the numbers reported here--given to us by an insider---have Heather three points too low. He says:

We did conduct a poll in January that covered a lot of things of interest to us, one being the race between Representatives Wilson and Pearce. The numbers were 38% for Pearce to 35% for Wilson with a 3.5% margin of error. This was first reported on your blog as being 38% to 33%.

We are pleased to have the definitive numbers. Our Alligator did his best, but gets five lashes with a wet noodle for shortchanging Heather. And we give Heather's staff a wet noodle lash for not quickly coming with a correction. Pearce's too, for letting the misimpression lay there. What are these paid campaign staffers doing? Reading old editions of the ABQ Tribune? All aboard please. The 21st century is leaving the station.

The crux of the poll is that Wilson, despite having more name ID than Pearce, is not leading Pearce. But the race is statistically a dead heat, making it the premier battle for the June primary.


The AP's Heather Clark has a full-time job tracking just who and what was responsible for the fouled up voter lists that were used in the February 5th Democratic Presidential Caucus. She has the latest from the Secretary of State who is asking that the state Dem Party start talking with her about the election problems. The state party is promising a full report. It can't come soon enough, as the botched caucus is now causing jitters over the June primary. The faster we get answers, the more confidence there will be in the conduct of that election.


Monday's blog has details of our college challenge for UNM and NMSU students and the $500 first prize we're offering, as well as a $150 second place prize. Here's a report on it from the NMSU student newspaper, the Round-Up. We're looking for a public relations and lobbying plan to win approval of a measure to limit campaign contributions in NM. The entry deadline is March 8, so you and/or the team you form still have time to compete, and we intive you to do so.

Other NM colleges have asked why they are not eligible to participate in the college challenge. This is our first one and we wanted to dip our toe into the water before swimming, but we'll do a follow-up challenge in which more schools will be invited to participate.

Thanks for your support, New Mexico. News, comments, corrections, and suggestions are welcome.E-mail them in.

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