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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blood From GOP Senate Race Drips On Legislative Race; Will It Spread Further? Plus: Vigil-Giron Future; Still In? And: Southern Congress Field Shrinks 

The spirited battle for the GOP US Senate nomination between Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce is starting to cause some serious divisions in the party and that does not bode well for the eventual winner. In Chaves County, former Republican county commissioner Rory McMinn, who is also a former member of the NM Public Regulation Commission, is challenging GOP State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair in the June primary. He is openly challenging Adair's support for Heather and touting his own backing of Pearce. Here's what McMinn had to say in a letter to Lincoln County Republicans:

...Campaigning in Lincoln County I've discovered that like me, Lincoln County is overwhelmingly in support of Steve Pearce. Why is it that Rod Adair and (GOP State Rep.) Dan Foley continue to support Heather Wilson in Chaves County and never mention it in Lincoln County? Because Steve will not play "footsie" with Rod and Dan, they have chosen someone who will. Voters should be concerned about the results of such an unholy alliance.

Republicans can only hope that their party's public brawling over the Senate race is confined to Chaves County, but with TV attack ads seemingly inevitable in the close race between the two US House members, Republicans are at risk of having emotions boiling over statewide. It's another reason why, in the early going, the NM Senate race is ranked as lean Dem.

REBECCA'S CHOICE

Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron doesn't seem open to suggestions heard here that she drop her bid for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat. She checks in via e-mail.

The only strength I see that the other candidates have on me is time. I jumped into this race officially on February 2nd and I have been focusing on getting on the ballot. That is my intent.

The campaign of Michelle Lujan Grisham has signaled it would seek to meet with Rebecca to see if she would bow out of the race after Grisham received 28% of delegate support at Saturday's Dem pre-primary convention and Vigil-Giron received only 11%. Vigil-Giron will have to file additional petition signatures by March 25th to make the ballot because she failed to get 20% support at the convention.

If the former SOS hangs tough in the face of long odds, the two Hispanic female candidates could split votes June 3rd. That would make it that much easier for Martin Heinrich (56% of pre-primary delegates) to wrap this one up. Stay tuned.

WORTH MENTIONING

It's worth noting that Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has no primary or general election opposition. He joins Senate President Pro Tem Jennings and Finance Committee Chairman Smith in getting an automatic renewal of his lease on a Roundhouse chair. This trio has come into its own in the last two years, giving Big Bill legislative headaches. That they are unopposed and guaranteed to be in the Senate after the Guv departs at the end of 2010 increases their power. Remember Bill's first term when the Senate seemed powerless against the Fourth Floor? The departure of powerhouse Manny Aragon seemed to create a vacuum. That vacuum appears to have been filled.

We also point out that none of the Senate's Big Three is from Albuquerque. But Governors usually go to bat for the city, even as the Legislature's leadership continues to be dominated by small town reps. After all, Big Bill and his predecessors ran statewide and would not have risen to the top without all those big city votes.

MORE ELBOW ROOM

There's more elbow room in that crowded race for the GOP nod for the Southern NM congressional seat. Former State Rep Terry Marquardt is out. He had a poor showing at the GOP pre-primary Saturday--he garnered only 2% of the delegate support--so the Alamogordo optometrist has announced he has folded his tent. That leaves five candidates in the race.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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