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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pearce & Wilson Ramp Up; Udall Debuts TV; Newman Gets A Million; Plus; Aftermath Of Historic Gay-Baiting Of Ben Ray, And: Rough In Roswell 

Pearce & Wilson
The nearly eight month old campaign for the GOP US Senate nomination--yes, its been that long--is nearing its climatic conclusion with Heather Wilson moving to a new attack plan and Steve Pearce unveiling nine--that's right--nine TV spots that will air from now until primary day June 3.

Wilson trails in all polls--public and private. Each day--each precious news cycle--must be put to maximum use to avoid an ignominious conclusion to her 10 year old congressional career. To that end, she came with an ad that packs more emotion than previous efforts and will likely provoke a response from frontrunner Pearce. Here's the video and here's the copy that could mean do or die for Wilson's chance at a desk on the floor of the US Senate.

Cut Social Security for widows and orphans? Unbelievable. But Steve Pearce said he'd do it. Pearce said cut them off, no benefits. Pearce also voted to cut $169 million from New Mexico’s share of hospital funding…And against cracking down on health care fraud and abuse. Steve Pearce: Cut Social Security. Cut New Mexico hospitals. Wrong for New Mexico. With that record, he can’t win in November.

The ad is based on a 2000 statement Pearce made while then seeking the GOP US Senate nod. Pearce's team says he never advocated cutting Social Security for widows and orphans, that he said benefits were in danger of being cut if something wasn't done to shore up the program.

Be that as it may, even hardhearted R's will take a second glance at a charge that widows and orphans are being thrown to the wolves. The public awaits his response.

As for who can win in November, that's a slippery slope for Wilson. Her negative ratings among the general electorate approach 50%. Besides, are Republican voters going to be thinking about November as they cast their votes in June? It seems more likely they are thinking about who the most conservative candidate is, which goes to the central flaw of the Wilson candidacy.

The ball seems to be firmly in Pearce's court. If he avoids any major missteps, he should take the prize. But like Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, Heather Wilson continues to cast a shadow.

ON THE TUBE

We interviewed with KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson about the latest developments in the GOP Senate race. You can see that here.

UDALL DEBUTS

Soon-to-be Dem US Senate nominee Tom Udall is moving to shore up some weak spots as he debuts two primary TV ads today, one sixty seconds, the other thirty. Udall, who has been savaged for voting for funding cuts at Los Alamos Labs, is said in one ad to have fought for "new counter terrorism jobs at Los Alamos."

Shot outdoors with Udall sporting blue jeans and an open collar, he appeals to the many NM veterans who may be attracted to the Republican candidacy of either Heather Wilson or Steve Pearce--both veterans. Udall also takes his share of credit for helping to save Cannon Air Force Base. Udall, who turned 60 last Sunday, is not a military veteran, but he points out that this father, Stewart Udall, is and that he supports "a new G.I. Bill" so veterans can afford college.

Overall, the ads aim to appeal to voters outside of the ABQ-Santa Fe corridor where Udall's popularity is already high. They are also his first attempt at positioning himself in the middle of the political mainstream--not on the far left where the R's would like to place him. Our media mavens say it appears he is spending about $100,000 for his first TV week. Udall reported nearly $2.6 million in cash on hand at the end of March.

You can see the Udall ads here and here.

MONEY FOR MONTY

It looks as if Monty Newman will be the first million dollar man in the crowded and competitive race for the GOP Southern NM Congressional nomination,. The National Association of Realtors, which has elevated the former Hobbs mayor by paying for ads for his candidacy, has come with another $393,000. That takes their contributions to $990,000. Add on what Newman has raised on his own and he is well over a million. The trouble is Newman got a late start and the race still seems centered on Ed Tinsley and Aubrey Dunn. (Does it seem like Tinsely may be starting to move? ) Anyway, under the law Newman can't control what the Realtors say about him in their ads . They have now put up a second spot, but it is much like the first. The Realtors may know how to sell houses, but getting someone to the US House may be a different matter. We'll see.

ROSWELL ROUGHHOUSING

We head back to Chaves County for the street fights known as Foley vs. Kintigh and Adair vs. McMinn. The Roswell Daily Record, which came with that scorching anti-State Rep. Foley editorial, has now given the treatment to GOP State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair. Here's a tidbit:

Adair has been a political player for a long time--too long for a man with his temperament...Whether he chooses a direct assault or the use of subtle machinations through his political allies, he goes after all and any who dare criticize him...

Discontent and factionalism is rampant among Chaves County area R's. Foley foe Dennis Kintigh, a retired FBI agent, has been hitting hard and effectively. Foley responded this week by calling Kintigh a mudslinger to which a Kintigh supporter retorted: "That's "like the kettle calling the pot black." Adair is also feeling the heat from his opponent, former Chaves County Commissioner Rory McMinn. Adair scored him for recently switching his party registration from decline-to-state back to Republican. But there are much bigger issues in these hottest of hot NM legislative primaries. It is a referendum on two prominent lawmakers who have stepped on a lot of toes and have made enemies with relish, not reluctance. Stay tuned.

A GAY OLD TIME

The gay-baiting of Northern Dem congressional candidate Ben Ray Lujan by rival Benny Shendo shook the body politic this week, but it wasn't the first time in New Mexico politics that sex and who you're having it with or not having it with has surfaced in a campaign. What made it different this time is how the accusation was made. Shendo went from the whispering circuit to the public megaphone, putting the story in play at a public forum and thus in the pages of the Santa Fe New Mexican. That is a first. ( Here is ABQ Journal coverage with some new info.) Here is the short video from the Farmington forum that will make the history books.




In 1976, GOP Senate candidate Harrison "Jack" Schmitt was subjected to endless rumors about his sexual preference by the camp of Democratic US Senator Joe Montoya. Schmitt was in his 40's, a handsome astronaut and unmarried, the perfect recipe for the gossip mongers. But Jack went on to easily defeat Montoya, and also to eventually marry. That's something for Ben Ray to take to heart.

Earlier in our history, Bronson Cutting, the progressive Republican senator, rich and single, was gay-baited throughout his career. Unlike Lujan, who addressed the issue directly by saying he is in a committed relationship with a woman, Cutting's sexual preference remains lost in the mists of history.

To this day the rumor mill continues, with several state legislators and a number of other NM public officials subjected to tongue wagging that they are closeted gays. While who is screwing whom may be titillating, it matters not at all to how our state and nation are run.

SHENDO'S SIN

Several readers e-mail that no one is asking Benny Shendo just what he is basing his accusations on. Shendo is pointing fingers at Lujan but does not explain himself, and has been condemned by representatives from several NM gay groups. It is "blatant character assassination" and Shendo needs to be called out for it," said one of our correspondents.

Attorney Helen Laura Lopez of Taos chimed in: "Shendo blew his political future...Shendo's small base was probably the more liberal white voters who are probably the least concerned by sexual orientation and who would be offended that he would interject it into his campaign. I hope Ben Ray choses to ignore it rather than spending time and money convincing voters that he is straight."

NM's liberal conscience, former ABQ mayor and Land Commissioner Jim Baca, also took a swing: "What I do not endorse is the nasty campaigning by Congressional candidate Benny Shendo in which he tries to out Ben Ray Lujan as being gay. Who cares? We should never forgive Shendo for this. Shame!"

Shendo is now out with a long and rambling missive that does nothing to answer the question of who appointed him the guardian of a candidate's sex life, or why it should matter. Will it have a negative impact on Lujan's candidacy? He may make up any votes he loses from Santa Fe's large gay community which could get behind him not because he is gay but because of Shendo's stupefying views on the role of sex in a political campaign.

It seems the reputation of Benny Shendo will suffer from this incident, not that of Ben Ray Lujan.

MORE ON THIS

In a twist of irony, the highest elected state official who was openly gay--former State Senator Liz Stefanics--will again be on the primary election ballot. Stefanics, a senator from the North in the 90's who was defeated for re-election, is seeking the Dem nod for a Santa Fe County Commission seat. She is currently director of the state Health Policy Commission, one of a number of openly gay officials in the administration of Big Bill who doesn't brag about it, but who has established a five star rating when it comes to human and civil rights in state government.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Attorney Bruce Throne, making his political debut in a jam-packed race for the Dem nod for the Northern Public Regulation Commission seat, is touting his endorsement from the ABQ Journal. Bruce is a utility expert who worked with then-Attorney General Jeff Bingaman in the early 80's....Southern Dem congressional candidate and Doña Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley received the endorsements of three newspapers: The Las Cruces Sun-News, The Roswell Daily Record, and The Silver City Daily Press. McCamley foe Harry Teague is up with a new TV spot in which he touts his endorsement by NM Lt. Guv Diane Denish....Steve Pearce received the endorsement of his hometown newspaper, the Hobbs-News Sun. They recognized his "steadfast support of the state's conservative values."

"Into America’s West" debuts this week on the Travel Channel. Emmy Award Winner Jeff Corwin’s trail of discovery and adventure shows off the state of New Mexico to an international audience....Big Bill heads to Puerto Rico to campaign for Obama...

ABQ Dem congressional candidate Robert Pidcock joins Martin Heinrich and Michelle Lujan Grisham in putting up TV ads. The problem? We can't show you the spot because it's not posted on Pidcock's Web site.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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