Monday, April 07, 2008

Grisham Challenges Becky; Files Ballot Removal Suit, Plus: Teague TV; Does It Work? Also: Inside Hill's ABQ Visit, And: Even More On The Monday Blog 

John Wertheim
The final pivots and positioning continued into the weekend for Primary Campaign '08, leaving us with some additional prospects to ponder. Topping the list was the effort by supporters of ABQ Democratic US House hopeful Michelle Lujan Grisham to kick former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron off the ballot. Former NM Dem Party Chair, attorney and Grisham supporter John Wertheim filed the district court action late Friday on behalf of three Grisham backers, the final day for challenging petition signatures. The suit claims not all of Becky's signatures are valid and that she comes up 100 short of the number needed to stay on the June 3 primary ballot.

It could be a defining lawsuit. If Grisham were to win it, her candidacy could have new life. Her fund-raising has been hampered because the political classes see her dividing the Hispanic vote with Vigil-Giron, leaving former ABQ City Councilor Martin Heinrich the clear leader. Albuquerque attorney Robert Pidcock is also running.

A court hearing will be held in the next week or so. If Grisham were to prevail, it could free up campaign funds for her, marking a new phase of the campaign. If not, Heinrich will breathe a major sigh of relief.

We're also getting word that Grisham is trying to get her name changed for the June ballot. Her voter registration lists her as Michelle L. Grisham, but she wants the ballot to read "Michelle Lujan Grisham for obvious reasons. The secretary of state normally lists candidates as they are registered.

One other Grisham note, The former Big Bill cabinet secretary has made a small TV buy for April ($2560) On KASA-TV, the ABQ Fox affiliate. That kind of money doesn't go too far, but it may get her bragging rights for being the first ABQ congressional candidate on the TV airwaves and charge up her supporters.


The TV time we told you that Harry Teague was buying starts today. The Southern Dem US House hopeful has made a substantial cable TV buy. He will also be up on KBIM out of Roswell which covers a big part of the sprawling district, and El Paso TV which covers Dona Ana County. Teague is expected to stay on the air through the primary. The former two term Lea County commissioner and well-off oilman from Hobbs unveiled two 30 second spots. The strongest is this bio spot.

Teagues's other spot positions him against the Iraq war, but emphasizing financial grounds. He says money being spent on Iraq could be used for health care and education.

Teague, 56, who came to NM from Oklahoma when he was nine, is a good ol' boy with appeal in cowboy country and the oil patch. He is not a renowned public speaker, so the ads wisely keep him from delivering the message. The more Teague sticks to who he is and what values he has, the stronger he'll probably be. The Iraq spot seems aimed at preventing Teague's sole rival, Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley, from building a head of steam on Dem hot-button issues. Most important, the spots, while perhaps not appealing to more conservative elements, do not lose votes for Teague.

Some analysts think he needs to start running to the right in the Southern district as soon as possible. R's have held the seat for nearly 30 years. But in the early going, it appears Teague will apparently be pleased to secure the Dem nomination and make the turn to the right following the June 3 primary.

Both spots are serviceable and will present a challenge to Teague rival McCamley. It appears Teague's TV will largely go unanswered for the month of April because of Teague's financial dominance. If so, Teague should begin to move and be the polling frontrunner by the time early voting begins in early May.


Late Sunday night Ben Ray Lujan circulated his first campaign ad of the season. The Dem candidate for the Northern Congressional seat joins Don Wiviott on the tube. Lujan's campaign did not say where they had bought or how much. You can see the ad here.


Now we take you to the far NE Heights ABQ home of former Ambassador Ed Romero where Sunday afternoon a fund-raiser was held for none other than Hillary Clinton. TV news informed that a crowd of several hundred showed. Tickets were going for either a Grand or $2300. Hill arrived shortly after 4:30 and stayed better than an hour. The national press that trails her cooled their heels across the street from Ed's spread, along with the local talent. They did get a photo op when the party ended. Hill stood at the entrance of the home chatting up Romero's family.

From the inside, we're told a reception line was formed and the dollar donors shook Hill's hand with many getting photos. She then milled about to the background sounds of guitar players strumming Mexican tunes. Johny Cope of Hobbs, one of her state fund-raising co-chairs, along with Romero, introduced the still hopeful Dem prez candidate on the patio of the Romero casa. Many of the NM Dem superdelegates pledged to Clinton were on hand, sipping wine and munching on the catered cocktail fare offered up as chow. They included Lady Di, Mayor Marty and Dona Aña State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia.

We are fully aware that what the former first lady wore is more important than what she said about Iraq and health-care. To that end, we are told:

"She was wearing a brown jacket, tailored in black with black slacks. She was tired but gave a great speech about why she was still in the race and the prospects. Lots of little girls were brought to the event by parents or grandparents to give them a sense of a woman leader. That was the best part for me...to see my granddaughter so anxious to meet her and then to watch it happen."

Was there any public joking by Hill about Big Bill and how onetime Clinton operative James Carville labeled him a "Judas" for backing Obama? "Not a peep," declared one who was there. Maybe Bill's stretch of national press over that tempest has finally petered out.


Back to what we talked about at the top--the final positioning for the June 3 primary. A move by ABQ Dem State Senate candidate Eric Griego to remove Al Armijo from the ballot has paid off. Armijo who said he was from Tijeras could not prove his residency in court and was kicked off the ballot. That means Griego, a former ABQ city councilor, will alone face Dem State Senator James Taylor, holder of the seat once occupied by ABQ South Valley powerhouse Manny Aragon.

We blogged the Armijo candidacy and in doing so passed on the jokes the politicos were making that it was James who actually got Armijo in the race to split opposition votes. Just a joke, of course.

Taylor is a Hispanic with an Anglo last name, blurring the choice of some voters who perhaps want to vote along ethnic lines--not an unheard of reason around these parts. With Armijo gone, Griego may benefit, but Taylor a veteran of the State House, is nothing if not a crafty and skilled politician. He remains the favorite, but with a door-knocking tiger on his tail.


Heads up candidates; school is in session. You're invited to join campaign professionals in ABQ Tuesday, April 29 as they discuss ways to sharpen campaign skills and present information on managing campaign strategies. This Campaign School, sponsored by the Credit Union Assoc. of NM, will provide information and training on working well with volunteers, communications, fund-raising, campaign and finance laws, writing a campaign plan and lots more. Presenters include: New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera; yours truly, Joe Monahan; Richard Gose, CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs; Ed Cafiero, Assistant VP, Grassroots, Voter and Constituent Communications at the Clinton Group; Trey Hawkins, CUNA Political Director; Mark Benson, President, APCO Insight®. The cost is $25.00 Register by going here or by calling Juan Fernandez at 505-338-4233 or email: juan@cuanm.org.

E-maiLyour news, comments and thoughts, and join New Mexico's #1 site for Campaign '08 for more tomorrow.

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