Monday, May 12, 2008
Noose Tightens On Heather: Pete Won't Play; Pearce Pounding, Plus: GOP Leader Foley Fighting For Life In Primary, And: Teague Says He's Closing In
Pearce & Wilson
The noose got tighter around the political neck of Heather Wilson this weekend, and unless something spectacular happens at the end of the month TV debates, the political intelligentsia say Steve Pearce is positioning himself for a five to ten point win in the battle for the coveted GOP US Senate nomination.
Wilson received a body blow Friday night when retiring US Senator and Wilson mentor Pete Domenici said he will not--repeat--will not--endorse a candidate in the Pearce-Wilson contest, but instead work hard for the winner of the June 3 primary. The ABQ Journal printed the news in its Saturday editions. It is not posted on the paper's Web site.
The Pete poll was the only one the political pros and the Alligators needed to confirm the evidence that is all around them--Pearce has secured overwhelming support in his southern congressional district, has a healthy lead in the northern district and is making progress toward ending Wilson's last hope--a blow-out win in big Bernalillo County and its suburbs.
Pete made Heather's career by endorsing her for the ABQ US House seat in 1998. His endorsement this time might have helped her score that big landslide in Bernalillo, but maybe not. In 1988, outgoing ABQ GOP US Rep Manuel Lujan tried to get his brother Edward to succeed him, but was rejected. Steve Schiff won the GOP primary. In 2002, outgoing southern US Rep Joe Skeen endorsed Republican Ed Tinsley, but Steve Pearce beat Tinsley.
Elections are about the future, not the past. And no matter how respected Domenici is in the Republican Party, time waits for no one. Wilson has three weeks to make something big happen--on her own.
THE PIVOTAL MOMENT?
The pivotal moment in Senate Campaign '08 may have come when Wilson aired her TV spot hitting Pearce for supposedly not supporting funding to beef up border security and for being weak on supporting the troops for not voting against a Democratic Iraq withdrawal plan. The pros say she appeared to be closing the gap, but then Pearce came with a spot that touted his conservative record, saying he votes conservative "every time," not some of the time like Wilson.
The Pearce campaign is now running spots trying to link Wilson's moderate Republicanism with the Democratic liberalism of soon-to-be Senate nominee Tom Udall. The overbearing use of the word "liberal" is the established style of Pearce's New York media consultant Arthur Finklestein. Pearce is also getting help from the conservative Club for Growth, which has come with a $200,000 buy attacking Heather. This means Wilson is now being outspent as she has no independent groups advertising for her.
For her part, Wilson is again hitting Pearce for being weak on funding Cannon Air Force Base. She also throws in ABQ's Sandia Labs and Los Alamos Labs. Her first foray into this territory--criticizing Pearce on Cannon--went nowhere. There is little reason to think this latest ad is the breakthrough spot Heather needs.
THE PAPER CHASE
As expected, Wilson on Sunday received the endorsement of the state's largest newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, but the paper unintentionally damned her while praising her. The Journal noted how Wilson is fond of reminding the state that she has a reputation as a "moderate." But that's what is killing her in this GOP primary in which she has shed the moderate label and now calls her herself a "common-sense conservative." In general elections moderate Democrats and independents have rescued Wilson, but in a US Senate primary there are only red meat Republicans in the boat. They are not going to bail her out.
In a mini-surprise, the Los Alamos Monitor endorsed Pearce over Wilson, even though Wilson is way ahead in the county and has scored points over Pearce for his votes regarding funding of Los Alamos. But the Monitor put aside lab funding and said in its endorsement:
"If no one in government is willing to stand up and say no to this project or that project, nothing will ever be cut and the federal deficit will continue to grow and grow and our debt will be worse and worse."
A taste of the right-wing fervor for Pearce, 60, came over the weekend from the NM right to life group which not only endorsed his candidacy, but did it at a meeting right in front of Heather. It was seen as a diss by some, but Heather knew what was coming. Others reminded us that it was Wilson who poked a stick in the eye of right to life when, in 2006, she made a fall campaign commercial bragging that she had voted to override President Bush's veto of a stem cell research bill. She could do that then because right to lifers had no where to go, but now they have Pearce's plush Cadillac to climb onto, and climbing aboard they are.
PETE'S LONG GOODBYE
Several hundred R's turned out Friday night to pay tribute to Senator Domenici who will leave the Senate at the end of the year. That was not an exceptionally large crowd for the state's longest serving US Senator, but then he won't be bringing home the bacon anymore, will he? Also, Domenici has done little to heal the rift within Republican ranks. Joe Carraro, Dave Cargo, Earl Greer, Janice Arnold-Jones, Mark Boitano and others are still running around outside the tent. KKOB's Peter St. Cyr posted complete audio of Domenici's speech as well as that of dinner keynoter and former NY US Senator Al D'Amato.
The most important GOP legislative primary race in NM this year is in Roswell, where House minority whip Dan Foley is under the gun from a former FBI agent who has now gone negative, and who, according to intelligence on the ground, may be leading the controversial Foley. Here's the TV ad Dennis Kintigh has put up.
Foley was arrested last year in a highly publicized dispute over his son's basketball game. An ugly mug shot of the state rep was circulated. Charges against him were eventually dismissed. It may have been the straw that broke the camel's back, even though Kintigh is not using it in his TV ad. Foley is an Irish street fighter and has three weeks to bruise newcomer Kintigh, but neutral sources say this could be the legislative upset of June 3rd. We are providing exclusive coverage outside of Roswell on this one and admit we are on the edge of our chair.
Also fighting for his political life, is Foley ally and fellow Chaves County lawmaker, State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair. Former Chaves County Commissioner Rory McMinn is challenging Adair in the GOP primary. McMinn won the right-to-life endorsement over the weekend, nothing to sneeze at in hard-core conservative country. Insiders say the race is in play and Adair will have to fight hard all the way to the finish line.
Hobbs oil man Harry Teague claims his campaign for the Southern Dem US House nomination is gushing with support. Teague, who has taken nearly $700,000 of the money he has made in Texas Tea and plunked it into his campaign, says a recent robo-call poll he conducted shows him well ahead of challenger and Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley:
A Survey USA style poll conducted on May 9th of 420 likely primary voters showed Harry Teague leading his opponent 36% to 14% with 50% undecided.
That sounds about right since Teague has been on the air for nearly a month without a response from McCamley. McCamley has about $200,000 in his bank account, enough for only one late TV buy. That will be the one and only chance the 30 year old has to turn this one around.
THE BOTTOM LINES
You gotta give the Santa Fe Reporter credit for keeping it real. Here's how they are deciding who to endorse in Campaign '08:
We interview all the candidates in a group since (A). we are a tiny staff and that's the only way to do it and (B), if they are going to talk shit about one another, I'd just as soon they do it in front of each other so that the shit-talkers and shit-talkees can respond to one another. Also, it keeps things fair, as in everyone answers the same questions and gets about the same amount of time. It's not a complex thing, but you'd think we were asking them all to come in naked and recite Shakespeare (now there's an idea).
And if you want a really outrageous take on Hillary's troubles with Barack, check out this video. But don't say we didn't warn you.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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