Monday, June 23, 2008

Blocking Bill: Competition Heats Up For SOS Slot, Plus: Obama Courts NM Women Voters Today, And: Bill's Special Session Could Be Open-Ended 

They don't call this place the Land of Entrapment for nothing, and Big Bill is the latest to find out why. He's been mentioned frequently as a VP possibility for Obama, but in recent weeks the New Mexico governor has been dropped from the many lists of the Great Mentioners. Now, the news gets worse. The coveted position of Secretary of State, a post that is more realistically attainable for Big Bill, may also be slipping away. Newsweek reports that Senator and 2004 Dem prez nominee John Kerry is dropping his name for the nation's top diplomatic position. With worldwide fame, an early endorsement of Obama (earlier than Bill) and as a fellow member with Obama in the exclusive club of 100, Kerry is major league competition for Bill for SOS. And with the election now just about four months away, even more heavyweights could emerge.

Richardson made a six nation overseas trip this month to tout NM business, but was widely seen as a screen test to be Obama's SOS. The trip did not drum up much media interest.

Richardson has repeatedly said he likes his job as governor. With Kerry making an SOS play, along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair and onetime Dem prez hopeful Joe Biden, Bill's assertion may be put to the test--all the way to January 1, 2011. Friends, it's enough to make Lieutenant Governor Denish pull her hair out.


Not that Bill isn't picking up some chits to cash in. He appeared Sunday on Face the Nation in the role of Obama surrogate. He appeared to be enjoying himself as he sparred with a McCain advocate, looked spiffy and stuck to his script. There was some awkwardness over Bill trying to explain why Obama rejected public financing for his prez campaign.

We now are going to be the first to mention Big Bill as a possible ambassador to China for Obama, or rather we're passing on what a friend of the Guv suggested would be a good job for Bill if he can't be VP or SOS. After all, this pal reasoned, China is going to be where the big diplomatic action is in the next decade. Tell you what, we'll watch the hiring of the chefs at the Guv's Mansion. If we see any coming aboard who speak Mandarin, we'll assume this suggestion has legs.

The Dem prez contender sets down in ABQ for an invitation only town hall meeeting at noon for working women dubbed, "Change That Works For You." Following that, our insiders report, he will have a quick fundraiser. A highlight will be a meeting with about two dozen Dem heavies and VIP's at the Grand Hotel near the Sunport who previously backed Clinton and will now announce their support for Obama as he works to unite the party here. Insiders said Light Guv Denish, a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton's, will attend the Obama town hall as will NM first lady Barbara Richardson and other professional women. The candidate needs them. Hillary narrowly beat Obama in the Feb. prez caucus here. Also, one of our Alligators reports Obama will name a NM state director this week.

Obama was last in NM Memorial Day weekend, visiting Las Cruces and also keeping that an "invitation only" event. Such nomenclature does not give a warm fuzzy feeling about the Illinois Senator. Some voters may start to ask: When do we get to see him? (Obama did have two big NM public events when he campaigned here for the February Dem prez caucus.)



If Obama does become President, it will be women in New Mexico and elsewhere who are the king makers. In the May 14th Rasmussen NM poll, Obama was beating McCain 50% to 41%. But he was winning women by a huge 22% margin--56% to 34%. Obama's problem was with women over 50 who trended toward McCain, with the Arizona Senator taking the 65 plus category 45% to 39%. Obama and McCain tied with women aged 50 to 64, each getting 45%.

Obama overwhelmed McCain 69% to 31% among women aged 18 to 29 and leads by 15 points among women aged 30 to 39. Those two groups account for his overall lead among female voters. That's the bad news for McCain. The good news is that these younger voters are somewhat less likely to cast ballots than older women. Obama needs to energize young working women and that is what he probably has in mind by hosting today's ABQ "working women" event.

The Rasmussen survey of 500 likely voters (MOE + or -4.5%). screened likely voters with in-person telephone interviews. That's unlike SurveyUSA which uses automated phone calling to gather results. Thanks to my Alligators for buying the Rasmussen crosstabs and making them available to you.


Here on the home front, Big Bill's semi-obsession with calling a special session of the NM Legislature has been dumbed down. His statement Friday that even if the Special he now plans to call in either August or September does not produce a universal health coverage plan, it will get a start on the concept for the 2009 60 day session.

So we have a Special, but should not expect final action? That's what he said, although the ABQ Journal story quoting him is not posted on the Web and we threw out our Saturday dead-tree edition in which we read it. Suffice it to say, there are many hurdles for the Fourth Floor to get the health coverage the Guv wants. He has been talking up key Senate leaders, but by lowering the bar for the results of the Special, the Guv is already paving a path toward the exits. So why have a Special in the he middle of an election campaign if you can't get a final deal? Good question.


Let's go out to the track this Monday and check in with some of the national handicappers studying the many exciting NM races. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says NM R's may have been better off with Heather Wilson as their GOP US Senate nominee, rather than winner Steve Pearce.

Wilson might have been able to capitalize on her gender and more centrist record in the fall. Pearce has little but hard conservatism to sell in a year when it isn't particularly appealing. Not surprisingly, the early polls favor Udall, the cousin of the Senate frontrunner in near-by Colorado. While we could possibly see this contest becoming close in November, Pearce will need a lot of breaks to win. We give the early edge to the Democrat. LEANS DEMOCRATIC.

Conservative Bob Novak goes pretty far out on the limb when he dubs the ABQ congressional seat a "likely Dem Takeover." The seat has never gone D, but Novak sees a change in the weather in this race between Dem Martin Heinrich and R Darren White:

Because we expect a strong Democratic tide, White's strengths look likely to be wiped out by a Democratic surge. Leaning Democratic Takeover.


The WaPo's Cillizza is not quite on board the good ship Novak, assessing the ABQ congressional seat as a toss-up

White's chances were struck something of a blow, however, when Rep. Heather Wilson, who has held the 1st District since 1998, lost the Senate primary. That means White won't have the advantage of Wilson driving turnout in her political base come the fall. Still, this is a race to watch as it features two quality candidates in a district that is as evenly split along partisan lines as any in the country.

We expect the first wave of polling to show White considerably ahead of the much lesser known Heinrich. What will be key is whether the two-time sheriff has hit the magic 50% mark. If he hasn't, Heinrich's chances of getting the race in play will be much easier.


They're still counting votes in that state senate race in Cibola County, and someone may have absconded with some of the paper ballots. They have back-up ways, though, of counting the votes--always a good idea around here.

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