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Thursday, March 13, 2008

R's Worry Over What's To Come In Senate Battle; How Negative Will It Get? Plus: Handicapping Of House Contests, And: APD Chief Spars With Big Bill 

GOP Chair Weh
The fretting seems to be growing louder among Republicans over what is come in the GOP battle for the US senate nomination. At least that's the impression we had when we spoke this week to the Petrol Club, a Republican leaning group of older ABQ voters. Two of the questions they posed stood out: "Why are all of NM's House members leaving to run for the senate and leaving the state with no seniority?" And, "Should State GOP Chairman Allen Weh be blamed for not putting a stop to the primary battle between US Reps Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce?"

The queasiness is justified. After this Saturday's pre-primary nominating convention, Wilson is expected to start unloading on Pearce. Unlike the Dems, the much smaller and more clubby GOP is not used to intense primary contests. Rather than relish the battle to come, many cling to the slim hope that one of the contenders will bow out, saving the party from bloody, internecine war fare.

As for those questions, the state's three US House members do indeed realize that they are taking all of the state's seniority with them, but they are politicians and they justify it by convincing themselves that they will do bigger and better things for NM In the US senate.

As to the question about Chairman Weh, he is a longtime Heather supporter who would not have the standing to negotiate a deal in which either Pearce or Wilson would bow out. But who could? Neither of them is about to pass on the chance of a political lifetime, no matter how distasteful the prospect is to their fellow R's.

There is still hope that the Wilson-Pearce duel doesn't go nuclear. But Wilson's unfavorable rating among state voters is a very high 47%, according to Rasmussen. (Lower among R's) And the consensus is that she lags the more conservative Pearce. Those signs point to a negative campaign. So the Petrol Club R's and others are bracing for a sight they hoped they would never see--a fusillade of 30 second TV spots in which two sitting Republican members of Congress wage war. It's hard to see a scenario where one of these contenders decides to bow out, but that doesn't mean more than a few R's aren't still hoping.

GAMING THE ACTION

Our blogging buddy at the Washington Post has fun with the congressional races, ranking the ten most likely to switch party control. His latest on the ABQ district reflects sentiment expressed among veteran observers and ranks the GOP controlled seat #8 on the likely switch list.

New Mexico's 1st District: On paper, this district should be in the top five on the Line. Based in Albuquerque, the 1st went for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by a 51 percent to 48 percent margin in 2004. But, Republicans have a top-tier candidate in Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White while Democrats seem headed toward a tough primary. (Previous ranking: 9)

Agreed, Chris. In this five way ABQ Dem race, there is no candidate with name ID even approaching 50%. The primary is also is starting to get heated with money leader Heinrich coming under fire as his four rivals start to arise. "Tough" is the right adjective for what lies ahead.

What about NM's two other open congressional seats? No national rankings for those but we see the Southern district starting this campaign as lean Republican and the Northern District as likely Democrat.

LOOKING WAY AHEAD

Some politicos are already being forced to place bets on the ABQ congressional race. Valley Alligators report Democrat Cris Sanchez will pass up a run for the Bernalillo County Commission seat held by Teresa Cordova because the retired sheriff's lieutenant is hoping to win appointment as sheriff if Darren White takes the congressional seat. Sanchez lost the sheriff's job to White in 2002 on a 55% to 45% vote. He lost the Dem county commission battle to Cordova four years ago. Maybe it's time Cris thought about appointments rather than elections. If White were to win the congressional seat, the five member commission would appoint someone to fill out his term which runs until 2010.

GLASS HOUSE THEORY
APD Chief Schultz
It's always dicey when non-elected officials try to play on the mine-ridden fields of La Politica. For instance, ABQ Police Chief Ray Schultz was sent out by Mayor Marty earlier this month to blast Big Bill who had just signed a measure that diverted some of the money from the city's controversial red light program to state "He (Richardson) has a scandal-ridden metropolitan courthouse that has to be paid for, and I think that's the bottom line here," Schultz declared.

Richardson allies found the chief's use of the term "scandal-ridden" interesting. They point out that it was a "scandal-ridden" APD evidence room that forced the resignation of the previous chief and paved the way for Schultz's appointment. However, they argue, Schultz never discovered who stole thousands of dollars from the department, and the theft remains unsolved. People who live in glass houses....

THE BOTTOM LINES

We had some trouble correctly spelling the name of GOP Bernalillo County commission candidate Michael Wiener. He was quick to remind us. "Remember it is WIENER (weeeeeener) and not Weiner (Whiner)." How can we ever forget...When we blogged that Sander Rue was running for the GOP nod for the ABQ state senate seat being vacated by Joe Carraro we said Rue had twice been defeated for an ABQ city council seat. Not so. Rue lost one race for the city council and one for NM state rep. He said not to say that he is the "seasoned" candidate. So we won't say it...

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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