Thursday, April 10, 2008

Insiders: Guv Threatening May Special Session; Still At Odds With Senate On Health, Plus: White & Heinrich Money Reports, And: Pearce's Tricky Video 

The high-stakes health-care debate is getting hotter in Santa Fe and, according to a high-level insider, is threatening to spill over into the primary election. Would Governor Big Bill dare call a special legislative session in May, even as lawmakers are in the middle of their re-election campaigns?

Apparently the health of the relationship between the Guv and the state Senate leadership has taken yet another turn for the worse and a May session is now on the Guv's table. The Senate killed Bill's health care plan earlier this year at the regular session. Leaders then met with him to talk compromise and all agreed to a special session after the June primary, Now, our informed insider reports, the Fourth Floor is losing patience:

The Governor is increasingly frustrated with the Senate leadership because they have only met once on health care and there has been no progress toward a developing a consensus as agreed to earlier this year. Attempts for dialogue with the Senate have produced absolutely nothing. These Senators have thus far been disingenuous about wanting to find a solution to the health care crisis. Now, the Governor will reach out to the House to pursue negotiations, and he will contemplate a special session as soon as May.

When lawmakers facing contested primary elections get a whiff of that news they are sure to start pulling their hair out. After they get done, Big Bill hopes they will put pressure on the Senators to agree with him on a health -care plan that will keep everyone on the campaign trail and out of the Roundhouse until June. Still, calling a special, as the Governor well knows, is no guarantee of getting what he wants, but by threatening to do so in the middle of a campaign, he is making this a most interesting game of bluff.

White & Heinrich
Neither of the top-tier candidates for the ABQ US House seat blew the doors off with their first quarter fundraising reports, but Dem hearts are aflutter that GOP contender Darren White did not dramatically out raise Dem Martin Heinrich. They think it shows this could be a rough money year for the R's locally, as already evidenced nationally.

White reported he raised $233,000 in the first three months of the year. He says he has about $300,000 of cash on hand. White, the Bernalillo County Sheriff, has now raised a total of about $447,000.

Meanwhile, Democrat Martin Heinrich says he raised $200,000 in the first quarter and has inched ahead of White with $350,000 in cash on hand. Heinrich has been in the race since mid-2007 and has raised a total of $665,000, matching most expectations. Federal reports for the first quarter are due April 15. Heinrich and White put out summaries before the deadline.

Money is not easy to raise. We have a historic number of open congressional seats, an open US Senate seat as well as state legislators seeking re-election. The e-mail and snail-mail boxes of flushed donors are overflowing. They've been hit on more times than a platinum blonde at closing time. Also, the soft economy is keeping some checkbooks closed.


Some Republican insiders think White missed out by not hitting the $500,000 total mark and show a more commanding edge. But the reasons listed above and a lethargic Republican party nationally and locally may be restraining him. The nationals won't let him twist in the wind, though. Groups like this will make sure White, who faces under financed primary opposition from ABQ State Senator Joe Carraro, will be among the first in line for important dollars as the R's work to keep the ABQ seat in their column.

If Michelle Grisham's court challenge to get former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron off the primary ballot does not succeed, Heinrich may not have to spend all his cash before June 3, but some Dem strategists are urging him to do so because White is so far ahead in name ID.

Grisham has not come with her money totals. Remember, if she becomes the sole Hispanic candidate she may be able to count on a base vote of 20 to 25% without spending hardly a dime. That would mean a campaign budget of $200,000, combined with the absence of Vigil-Giron, could give her a shot at making the race competitive. And get this. Attorney Jon Adams who first ran against Heinrich for the ABQ House seat and then switched to become a Dem contender for the Northern House seat, has signed up as Vigil-Giron's lawyer! But as spring struggles to out muscle winter's loosening grip in our always entertaining land, a White-Heinrich match-up remains the most likely scenario


They say politics is all about timing, and in the case of GOP US Senate candidate Steve Pearce it appears it was a case of bad timing indeed when he showed up at a veterans' pro-Iraq war rally in D.C. Tuesday. There he is, applauding this controversial line from one one of speakers:

"You can have your Tiger Woods, we've got Senator McCain."

You can't help what other people say, but the racially tinged line appeared to cross the line. Here is the tape that has to be giving the campaign of the Southern NM congressman at least a low-grade migraine.

Meanwhile, both Pearce and his rival for the GOP Senate nod, ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson, are both coming under fire in the first NM TV ad from one of those "501 (c) 4" groups. In this case it is the Defenders of the Wildlife Action Fund. The ad is aimed at softening up the ground for Dem Tom Udall who will take on the winner of the GOP primary.

Pearce appears to have very few weaknesses in his quest for the GOP nomination, but this ad, analyzed one of our GOP Alligators, does reveal a significant soft spot for a fall face-off with Dem Tom Udall.

Steve can hardly hide that he's knee deep in oil. That's what keeps him from eating bologna instead of steak at night. He be an oil man! I mean, the guy is from Hobbs which is basically West Midland/Odessa. In the general election, Heather could say, "Yeah..the oils gave me some cash, but I fought for Valle Vidal while Udall wanted to close Los Alamos Labs. This is Steve's weakest point if gas is running $3.50 in October.

What kind of parties do those guys in Hobbs have when oil is at $100 bucks a barrel? Or do they need to build a place to party?

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