Friday, May 23, 2008

Wild Northern Race Analyzed; Plus: Obama, McCain & Bush All To NM, And: Pundit Predictions & Some Bottom Lines 

They've absorbed the shock waves. Now the Alligators and insiders have moved on to coldly calculating the impact of the accusation that Northern Dem congressional candidate Ben Ray Lujan is a closeted gay. The charge was made by erratic rival Benny Shendo. Most of those asked said the development was so bizarre that they could not venture what impact, if any, it would have at the voting booths, but the several who did said they did not see it as a deal breaker for the 35 year old Public Regulation Commissioner and son of NM House Speaker Ben Lujan.

The optimistic scenario was painted by longtime NM syndicated political columnist Jay Miller who also said the incident is being treated with some levity.

The possibility Lujan may be gay could hurt him further with people who probably weren't going to vote for him. His supporters in the north no longer are shocked much by that sort of thing. I've heard people around here say that they are relieved Lujan might be gay. They were worried a good looking, single casino dealer in NM and NV was probably a playboy.

Lujan has denied being gay through his spokespeople, but since he must authorize what they say, the statement is being taken as coming directly from the candidate.

Others speculated that the North's many Hispanic Catholics might be sensitive to the accusation, but with little more than whispers offered as evidence, it's hard to see the issue gaining traction.

The prospect of an endorsement of Lujan's candidacy by Big Bill has become more important following the gay-baiting incident. Richardson said this week he would make an endorsement in the race, and it is widely expected it will be Lujan. That news was welcome before Shendo's
shake-up. Now it is anxiously anticipated.


The Memorial Day weekend holiday will be nearly nonexistent for the politicos. Sunday the ABQ Journal will come with its polling in the Dem races for the ABQ and Northern congressional seats. On Monday the two major contenders for the presidency--Obama and McCain will make same day visits to the Land of Enchantment. Obama will make a splash in Las Cruces and environs, using the El Paso TV market. McCain will keep it in ABQ. On Tuesday President Bush comes to ABQ for a fund-raiser for likely GOP ABQ congressional nominee Darren White and Obama's wife Michelle will attend fund-raisers in ABQ and Santa Fe.


Speaking of the Prez's visit, the state Dems are not ignoring it. They want to hang the unpopular president around Darren White's neck and they made a stab at it with this news shout-out:

White...criticized President Bush...during a call-in radio show Thursday. When a caller asked if he would vote for Bush again, White dodged by stating that Bush was no longer on the ballot. Instead, White criticized both Congress and the Administration, saying, "Bush is somewhat responsible for the division in Washington." While White wants to distance himself from Bush...he apparently has no problem using the Bush name to take money from Bush's...friends. What White neglected to mention was Bush's visit Tuesday...

But Bob Clark of 770 KKOB-AM, who interviewed White said:

"I asked Darren about Bush's visit at the very beginning of the show and we discussed it for a few minutes. So it's clear whomever wrote the release for the Dems didn't hear the beginning of the show or just left it out on purpose.


Back to the Northern Dem race where Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya doesn't have a lot of campaign money, but enough to put up some cable TV ads. You can see one here. When you see Harry, ask him how many shots it took him to make that basket.


NM columnist Ned Cantwell, as usual, has some fun at our expense. From his column:

Blogger Joe Monahan reports that the "political intelligentsia" pegs Pearce as positioning himself for a 5-10 point victory., although the upcoming televised debates could change that. Maybe so. The only "political intelligentsia" I know is the guy at the corner bar. And he's not buying--either my beer or the nasty tv ads.

OK. Intelligentsia is out. The Alligators are back in.


Let's go back to columnist Jay Miller of "Inside the Capital" fame. I asked The 70 year old political junkie for a couple of primary predictions.

NORTHERN DEM US HOUSE--Ben Ray Lujan will pull it out. Don Wiviott should get the Anglo vote in the corners of the state, but he'll lose it in the north. Business and community leaders don't like his practices. Greenies say he is not a green developer; he is an opportunist who thought he could take advantage of infill provisions in the Santa Fe city master plan. Up north, Ben will get Hispanics, union members, greens and probably the big GLBT vote.

ABQ US HOUSE--Republican Darren White and Democrat Martin Heinrich easily.

Says Miller: "The nice thing about being retired and 70 is that I don't have to worry much about anything I say coming back to haunt me."


GOP Southern NM congressional hopeful Monty Newman, under pressure to join the negative fray that has broken out for the nomination, says he won't be a guest at that party:

The attacks from the Aubrey Dunn and Ed Tinsley campaigns have completely distorted the facts surrounding my record as the elected mayor of Hobbs and as a city commissioner...Both candidates have chosen to attack my service by taking quotes out of context. That may be good strategy if you are going to attack. It is simply impossible to explain sound municipal fiscal policy and the responsibilities of being a city elected official in a 30-second sound bite.


If you are voting absentee in the June primary, blog reader Homer Johnson has some advice:

I requested an absentee ballot and, after filling it in, realized I had no idea how much postage it required. There's nothing on the instruction sheet or the envelope , other than something like 'appropriate postage required.' So I called the BernCo Clerk's office, and was told that proper postage is one dollar, and that 'we've been getting lots of calls like this.' None of the campaigns, to my knowledge, have done anything to get the word out either.

Clerk Maggie Toulose Oliver responds:

I did a press conference prior to Absentee starting and let folks know what the cost of postage to return the absentee ballot would be. Regardless, we have an agreement with the post office to return any absentee ballots to us whether they have the full amount of postage attached or not. All the ballots will make it back to our office if they are sent in time to get there by 7 PM on June 3.


Dem Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has a free ride for her party's nomination, but not one in the fall election where she will face R Lisa Torraco. Brandenburg had a completely free ride in '04--no primary or general foes--but now she is in full campaign mode saying: "I am moving toward a clean sweep of law enforcement union endorsements. So far I have the endorsement from the Bernalillo County Deputy Sheriff's Association, the Chicano Police Officers' Association and the Albuquerque Police Officer' Association."

Brandenburg is keenly aware that in the past the R's have shown they can compete for the Bernalillo DA slot. Think Steve Schiff and Bob Schwartz...

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