Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Big One For Ben Ray: Udall Patriarch Gives His Blessing, Plus: White Blasts Back: Denounces Claim That He Supported Johnson Pro-Drug Policy 

Lujan & Udall
The Udalls of Arizona have put the welcome mat out for the Lujans of New Mexico and it could mean a US House party for Lujan the Younger. Stewart Udall, 88, a founding member of the American environmental movement, Secretary of Interior under President Kennedy, former US Rep from Arizona and father of Northern NM Congressman Tom Udall, said Wednesday from his Santa Fe home that Ben Ray Lujan is the Democrat who should succeed his son in Washington. It was a crystal clear message to Udall supporters and stole much needed oxygen from the candidacy of wealthy Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott.

"I have decided to endorse Ben Ray Luján for the third congressional district race. Although there are fine people running in the race, Ben Ray stands out in the crowd. Why? Because others are forced to talk about what they hope to do in the future, while Ben Ray has an outstanding and proven record on the environment and of standing up for the people of New Mexico."

That's pretty heady stuff for the 35 year old Lujan, a public regulation commissioner whose father, NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, is one of the state's premier power players.

The politics of the Udall endorsement make perfect sense. To become the next US senator from NM Tom Udall will need a huge northern majority. With a Hispanic Dem on the ticket working to get the vote out, Udall will directly benefit. Tom Udall is unable to endorse in a contested primary, but in this case, Dad is much more than second best.

It's not all politics. Ben Ray has also received the nod from the Sierra Club, Conservation Voters NM and environmental State Senator McSorley, securing the trust of a voting bloc that self-described "green" builder Wiviott was counting on. You have to believe that Stewart Udall is pretty comfortable in his skin about Lujan or, politics or not, he would not be putting at risk his own hard-earned reputation.

Lujan is on his way to taking the Dem nomination in the North, but there is still one formidable obstacle--Wiviott's money and a possible negative campaign. He has loaned his campaign nearly $1 million. He can do whatever he chooses. But if your Ben Ray Lujan and have the character reference of Stewart Udall, revered by liberals in NM and across the nation for his life's work, you have an insurance policy that is paid in full.

A cornerstone of the Darren White for Congress campaign is that he quit his job as head of the Department of Public Safety in protest of Governor Johnson's proposals to legalize drugs. So it was no surprise that White's campaign reacted angrily to our Tuesday blog in which a reader said White was actually for Johnson's drug plans before he announced his opposition. They supplied a quote from a pro-drug legalization publication which we linked to and which you can read by scrolling down The campaign of the Bernalillo County Sheriff hit back hard:

...Our opponents have been...trying to reinvent history with respect to Darren White's position on Governor Johnson's push to legalize drugs. Unfortunately for (Dem congressional candidate) Heinrich, the quote...is not the earth-shaking controversy he is so clearly hoping for. Rather, this is a...flagrant disregard for the truth..That identical quote...was reported by the Associated Press in October of 1999... Like the original story on this issue, this AP story noted White's opposition to drug legalization. White's view has not changed and he continues...to make the point that enforcement by itself will not stop drug use. White supports additional measures such as prevention, education, treatment, and sentencing alternatives...

A White supporter e-mailed in a 2002 news report from the ABQ Journal buttressing the argument that White ditched Johnson over the dope issue.

"Gov. Gary Johnson has waded into the Republican primary election race for Bernalillo County sheriff, but not for the candidate who once was his Cabinet secretary for public safety. Johnson wrote a fund-raising letter on behalf of candidate Marshall Katz, one of five Republicans seeking the office..."

Well, we griped this week about the low-key ABQ congressional campaigns. Now, it looks like we skipped right to the general election.


With primary voters set to swarm to the polls in big numbers for the Saturday opening of early in-person voting, Martin Heinrich is putting up his first TV ad today. You can see it here. It is a soft-sell, broad-based approach, mentioning Heinrich's support of an increased city minimum wage, his environmental work and his working class parents. Our TV insiders say it appears Heinrich will start his advertising with about $50,000. His campaign says tht amount will be spent in the first four days. Media experts say $100,000 a week is needed to truly blanket the market.

Another of the four Dem ABQ congressional hopefuls, Michelle Lujan Grisham, will also do TV, but not right now. The TV mavens tell us she has booked about $50,000 worth for the final week of the primary contest. The other two candidates are Robert Pidcock and Rebecca Vigil-Giron.

Meanwhile, all of NM's Dems are rejoicing over the Democratic victory in a special election in a normally Republican congressional seat in Mississippi. They are hoping that it signals a big national Dem trend that could finally sweep away the R's in the ABQ district, who have held the seat the since 1968.


Soon-to-be Dem US Senate nominee Tom Udall will spend some of that $2.6 million he has collected. TV trackers say he has bought about $80,000 in the ABQ market for a one week run that will being next Wednesday. He is expected to stay up until the June 3rd primary.

In the northern congressional district Dem Don Wiviott, who has given his campaign a million dollars in personal money, is off TV for a couple of days. He is "retooling his spots" says a spokesman. When Wiviott goes back up will he go negative on frontrunner Ben Ray Lujan?


If you're Heather Wilson and nuking your GOP US Senate rival Steve Pearce for being anti-Cannon Air Force Base, you don't need articles like this popping up. The base is adding a Special Operations Squadron. What's that again about "mothballing" the place?

While Heather is blasting Pearce over Cannon, Pearce's out-of-state sympathizers are hammering Heather and Tom Udall. It's that "push poll" we told you about yesterday and which has the Udall campaign so upset. The thing about Republicans is that they don't argue the moral imperatives of push polling and such things. They just do it. Which brings us back to the fact that Pearce continues to beat the tar out of Udall not just over the phones, but on statewide TV and with nary a peep from Tom and Company. The last we heard, the bully doesn't back down until you stand up to him, but apparently the high-powered Udall consultants think they have a big enough lead to absorb such attacks. Here in the bleachers, we are much more uncertain.


Like the crazy stuff going on in the Chaves County GOP over the hot primary contests being waged against State Rep. Foley and State Sen. Adair. The chair of the county party is saying Adair and Foley are being subjected to unfair attacks! Like those two guys don't know how to play hardball?


The only candidate of Hispanic descent (by his mother) seeking the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat has received the endorsement of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. They say: "We wholeheartedly endorse Earl Greer for Congress...He is a man of great integrity, uncompromising morals, and solid character. He reflects our proud Hispanic values, and we would be very honored to have him represent the Hispanic community and the second district in Congress...New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands, Patrick Lyons, announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Ed Tinsley in New Mexico’s Southern congressional Republican primary. That could help Tinsley to start peeling away from what is a crowded and
highly competitive field.

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