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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

ABQ Showdown Or Not? Heinrich Vs. Grisham Is Analyzed, Plus: Hillary To ABQ For Funds, And: EXCLUSIVE: Wiviott Now Up To $890,000 In Personal Money 

Heinrich & Grisham
None of the major political hopefuls in the June 3 primary had second thoughts and took advantage of the last day for them to get out. According to the 2008 state candidate guide, Tuesday was the last day for a candidate to withdraw. If they get out now, their name will still appear on the June primary ballot. Not that anyone anticipated any of the contenders bowing out. There was conjecture that ABQ Dem congressional hopeful and former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron might be persuaded to drop her bid by rival Michelle Lujan Grisham. That has not happened which means the two could end up splitting votes and making the path to the nomination easier for former ABQ City Councilor Martin Heinrich.

Even with the Rebecca millstone dragging her down, Grisham still has a shot, but it is getting longer. Most strategists think she needs to make a major move for the middle of the party that remains up for grabs--and now. Heinrich has not moved much beyond his liberal base, leaving the Reagan Dems and many Hispanics still undecided and not engaged. He has quietly noted he is not a gun control advocate and is not against the death penalty.

To appeal to the undecided, former Secretary of Health Grisham will have to lose the strategy she used at the pre-primary convention. There, she passed out a letter calling herself a "Progressive Democrat...with a history of supporting pro-choice policies, universal access to healthcare and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender rights." But self-described progressive Democrats are fervid in their support for Heinrich and locked down. One Democratic strategist sees it this way:

"She has one possible shot. If Heinrich's cash on hand is not overwhelming, Michelle could be in this thing if she has at least $200,000 for TV and cuts two hard-hitting ads appealing to the large voting blocs still on the fence."

But Grisham is going to have to pitch a near-perfect game. If Heinrich has marshaled his resources as he should have, he will be able to go on the air at will in the next two months not only nailing down liberals, but also other key groups.

Grisham's candidacy looks good on paper and she could, according to Republicans like ABQ NE Heights State Rep. Larry Larranaga, wage a strong fall campaign. "I fear her most. Voters in this district have been used to voting for a woman. She would be a more complicated candidate for (probable GOP US House nominee) Darren White." Larranaga said.

Unlike Heinrich, Grisham has been unable to translate her appeal into fund-raising or a focused strategy. Two months is a long time in politics, but opportunity doesn't keep knocking if you don't answer.

THE FUN TIMES

There will be plenty of time for White and Heinrich--if they are the nominees--to throw mud at each other. But that's later. Right now, we are in the warm and fuzzy stage. Take this from the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call and political analyst Stuart Rothenberg:

I'm told that the ladies think that New Mexico's 1st district Democratic hopeful Martin Heinrich is good-looking. All I know is that he seems pretty down to earth, is putting together a good campaign and has the kind of background that should be appealing to New Mexico voters.

The ladies like his looks? We really are in softball season. And then there's this 1980's music video of Sheriff White. His campaign liked it enough to send it out with a fund-raising appeal. White sports a mullet and sings an anti-drug song to a group of young people. It isn't half-bad. Just don't look for it on Billboard's Top 100. Enjoy the good times while they last candidates--because they never do.

LATE BREAKING AND EXCLUSIVE

How high will he go? Northern Dem congressional candidate Don Wiviott has loaned his campaign another $300,000, bringing his personal spending on his first run for political office to a somewhat mind-blowing $890,000. According to the FEC Form 10 Wiviott must file and which insiders provided us with, he loaned himself the $300,000 on Monday, March 31. Wiviott has already busted through the "Millionaires' Amendment," the FEC rule that allows his opponents to take individual donations of up to $6900 to compensate for Wiviott's personal money. The normal campaign contribution limit is $2300.

Wiviott appears to be making state political history in the Northern congressional race. I can't recall any candidate spending this much of his own wealth on a contest there. Phil Maloof spent more than that from his personal fortune when he ran for the ABQ seat in 1998. Wiviott made his money building homes and lofts in Santa Fe. This kind of money will be used mainly for expensive TV ads. His main opponent, Ben Ray Lujan, has accused Wiviott of trying to buy the congressional seat being vacated by Dem Tom Udall who is running for Senate. But Wiviott points out he is not taking any contributions from corporate PACS, freeing him from special interest influence.

Wiviott's recent polling showed him at 16%, seven points behind Lujan. Lujan is the favorite in the heavy Hispanic Democratic district. We are in uncharted waters with Wiviott's spending, and really don't know if voters will recoil from it, not care much about it, or embrace it as refreshing. Certainly Wiviott's campaign vendors are happy. For them, recession is a foreign word.

HILLARY TO ABQ

It will be one of those rare times when Big Bill doesn't make it to a fund-raiser thrown by his old friend and onetime ambassador to Spain, Ed Romero. The reason: Romero's Sunday bash at his ABQ home is being thrown for Hillary Clinton. Bill just got done endorsing Obama and has been feeling the chill air from the Clinton circle since. But Romero says the party does not have any symbolism, that it's the dollars Hill is coming in for, not to zing Governor Bill. Romero was appointed ambassador by President Clinton and has remained close to the former first couple. Light Guv Diane Denish, chair of Hill's NM campaign, will also be at the party along with ABQ Mayor Marty. Hill will fly in and fly out, with no public events scheduled. Invites are going for $2300 and $1000 a pop.

Hill carried the NM prez caucus over Obama Feb. 5 by a narrow margin. After Bill endorsed Obama former Clinton operative James Carville called him a "Judas," as the endorsement took place on Good Friday. Maybe Bill will be at Mass when Hillary stops by Sunday, making sure he remains in good standing with the church and praying for a quick Obama victory.

NO RESPECT


ABQ GOP State Senator Joe Carraro doesn't have the welcome mat out for the chairman of the Republican National Committee who, along with state GOP chairmen from around the country, is meeting this week at the Hyatt Tamaya resort. And it's no wonder. RNC Chairman Mike Duncan says the national party is officially endorsing Sheriff White over Carraro for the GOP nod for the ABQ US House set. That's unusual for the RNC, but can be done with the approval of the state's three RNC representatives. Carraro has often battled the leadership of the state party. Duncan told KOB-TV news the White endorsement was easier to make because Carraro only received 15% of the vote at the state GOP pre-primary convention. White, he said, is going to win the primary. The AP's Barry Massey talked with Carraro and local R's.

The R's have a 40 year winning streak going in the ABQ congressional district. The fall campaign will begin with White as the favorite and the likely leader in the early polling. If the R's lose the seat, it could mean the Dems will be starting their own 40 year streak.


MORE POLLING
Aubrey Dunn
Yet another poll from a congressional candidate hoping to pick up some Big Mo. This one comes from rancher Aubrey Dunn in that crowded race for the GOP nomination for the Southern congressional seat. No surprise. Dunn says his pollster tells him he is ahead. It's Dunn with 22%, Ed Tinsley at 16%, Earl Greer gets 10%, Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman comes with 8% and Greg Sowards garners 1%. Undecided was the big winner with 36%. Seven per cent did not answer and 1% named someone else. 400 voters were surveyed last Wednesday and Thursday. The poll had a margin of error of 4.9% and was conducted by National Research, Inc. (PDF of polling memo here.)

The poll comes on the heels of the news broken here that restaurant chain owner Tinsley has bought $320,000 worth of ABQ TV for May. Dunn has loaned himself $300,000 but says he won't kick in anymore. Tinsley is also coming with personal cash. He says his campaign budget may hit $1million.

Dunn says he is strongest on the East Side. He has a ranch in Lincoln County and has lived in Roswell. Tinsley also has a ranch in Lincoln County. He lost the 2000 GOP nomination race because of poor showings in Lea, Eddy and Chaves counties.

Dunn and Tinsley agree the race is wide open, and so do we. But it is going to close fast when the TV goes up. If Greer and Newman can't compete financially, it will be a two man race between Tinsley and Dunn. Don't say we didn't tell you.


CLOSE OR NOT?

We blogged Monday that Cannon Air Force Base "came close to closure." The ABQ Journal Tuesday wrote "Cannon didn't even come close to being closed." Both statements are correct. We meant that even by getting on the Pentagon's list of 30 bases proposed for closure in 2005, Cannon looked death in the face. The ensuing panic in Clovis and among the congressional delegation is our evidence. The Journal meant (we think) that because Cannon was removed from the list and death was avoided it never came close to actually shuttering its doors. But all is well that ends well. Cannon found a news mission and no jobs were lost. That's why it is an uphill fight for Rep. Heather Wilson to score points on this issue against her GOP US Senate rival, Steve Pearce. As we wrote back in '05, if the base had been closed a major issue in the coming campaigns would have been "Who Lost Cannon."

THE BOTTOM LINES


Syndicated columnist Ned Cantwell joins those piling on because we speculated that Big Bill was trying to play down his endorsement of Obama by putting out the news in the wee morning hours. Earlier, Bill spokesman Gilbert Gallegos also said that theory was all wet. But, in case new readers don't know, we've been judged "genetically conspiratorial" by journalist and armcair psychotherapist Bruce Daniels and reserve the right to wallow in paranoia...


He's back. Ralph Nader, that is. He has filed petitions to get on the November NM ballot.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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