Friday, April 11, 2008

Senators Pushback At Bill; Want Special Session Later, Plus: Some Vintage La Politica & Other Fun Friday Stuff 

Jennings & Sanchez
It didn't take long for top Senate leaders to push back at Big Bill after we hit with the exclusive news early Thursday that he was threatening to call them into special session to craft a health care plan smack dab in the middle of Primary Election '08. Majority Leader Sanchez and Pro Tem Jennings are now saying a Special should happen but not in May as the Guv is threatening, but in the fall. Leader Sanchez batted back the freshly tossed ball from the Fourth Floor this way:

"Several members of the state Senate have been meeting and will continue to meet in the coming months to help forge an agreement on the difficult question of how best to approach or pay for health care reforms. I expect that groundwork can be completed by the end of the summer and that a special session could convene as early as this fall."

Insiders report Senators expect the state's next fiscal report to be dour, and that could take the steam out of Big Bill's health plans. Richardson this week has been making it sound like the Senate is obstructionist and is against significant health care reform that would give an estimated 400,000 New Mexicans insurance. The Senators, even conservative ones, may be feeling his heat among their Dem constituencies.

Behind the scenes, the top Senators loathe the idea of a Special, but the power of the Guv to shape opinion--especially Dem opinion with a primary election pending--is keeping Sanchez and Jennings from going toe-to-toe. However, they are still not giving Big Bill what he wants. Who will make the next move? Stay tuned.


It's not the Tuesday night polling showing Democrat Tom Udall beating either Steve Pearce or Heather Wilson in a head-to-head Senate match-up that the Alligators care about. They already know that. What they want to know is what do the Rasmussen numbers mean for the contest for the Senate GOP nomination between Pearce and Wilson. Well, Udall beats Pearce by fourteen points---54-40--but trounces Wilson by twenty- 56-36. That means Heather's negatives are still at the top of the charts and that Pearce's are significantly lower--at least among the electorate at large. But don't think that her negs aren't also higher among R's who know both candidates. You can bet a dozen of your new New Mexico quarters that they are.


Pearce's conservative allies in the form of the Club for Growth are piling on Heather in this video making the rounds, but not yet airing on TV. It calls Wilson a "liberal." Heather a liberal? Now that is a conservative group. Let's see if they buy any time for this deal or are just teasing.


We see a pretty big turnout for the May 9 GOP tribute for retiring GOP US Senator Pete Domenici. Former NY Senator Al D' Amato will be the keynoter.

The legacy of the longest-serving NM US Senator is a work in progress. Historians will have to reconcile a very strong Domenici tenure in the middle of his 36 years with a flat finish, marred by the US attorney scandal and the failure of the Iraq war. But there is no question that he was among the most effective lawmakers ever in safeguarding the large portion of our state's economy generated via federal funds. He also gets high praise for being the real deal. He did not fake his knowledge of the issues. He studied and then acted. Those who agreed with him celebrate his record. Those who didn't still celebrate the endurance of the public service given.

The Republicans will stake first claim on Domenici's retirement in this election year and use it for fund-raising. But we also anticipate several bi-partisan events later this year where Domenici's career will be noted not only as a political accomplishment, but to showcase the worth of a life dedicated to the public arena.

Ticket prices for the Domenici GOP tribute range from $75 to $5000 tables. The event will be held at the ABQ Marriott. Money raised will benefit the NM GOP's Victory 2008 fund which will be used to promote their US Senate and US House candidates. For further info call 505-298-3662 or e-mail hfuller08@gmail.com.


Speaking of Pete's historic stint, we take you back to a long ago chapter of our beloved La Politica. Here's a pic we snapped recently from the wall of Garcia's restaurant not far from downtown ABQ where I sometimes hang for the red chile. It shows a young ABQ GOP US Rep. Manuel Lujan and an even younger NM GOP US Senator Pete Domenici posing with Andy Garcia, owner of the restaurant. My guess is the photo is from around 1976 or '77 when Pete was in his first term. Lujan served 20 years in the US House and was first elected in '68. I believe he will soon turn 79. Domenici will turn 76 in May. It will be a long time before NM again accumulates that kind of seniority.


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David Odegard & Me
UNM junior David Odegard of ABQ is an enthusiastic student of NM politics who took the $500 prize we offered in our blog ethics essay contest for university students. The 21 year old, a grad of ABQ's Sandia Prep, made us think about the issue differently:

Ethics is not subject-specific, although it gets intertwined with subject areas that people are passionate about and reform never gets anywhere. Ethics reform can be covered without talking about money. ‘Ethics reform’ is the phrase that becomes a driver for finance reform and does not address the issue of what is ‘ethical’. Finance reform includes regulating and reporting money, and overhauling government campaign financing.

He also noted there is an interim legislative ethics committee that needs to be brought to life so the ethics heat can be focused, rather than diluted over the entire Legislature. More on that later.

Odegard is a double major--anthropology and political science. We had a spirited discussion with him and photog Mark Bralley at the local Starbucks. We didn't ask for his party registration, but we do know he is a fiscal conservative--he said he would use the prize money to pay his dues to several UNM honors' society. Well, maybe he'll party a little, too. Congratulations, David.


How about a weekend running with the "Rat Pack" in swingin'' Vegas? Santa Fe's Jim Terr takes us there. Enjoy.


is kind of complicated because we first blogged Thursday that the group putting out that attack ad on Republican Senate candidates Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce was a "527" group. In reality, they say: "Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund is organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. As such, it can lobby and engage in unlimited work to influence legislative action. Because of this, the Action Fund is not a charitable organization, unlike its sister organization, Defenders of Wildlife, which is a 501(c)(3).

Please do not make your weekend anywhere near that complicated.

E-mail your latest news and comments. I'm Joe Monahan, reporting to you from Albuquerque, NM.

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