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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Danger Ahead For The "New" Obama? Warning Flags Up, Plus: Political Tales Of Days Past: The Bullet Train & Hangin' With "Little Joe"--Part III 

There is a major change in the Obama campaign. The boldness is gone, replaced by cautious treading. We picked up on it when we remarked on his ABQ visit last month. The Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington is first up with the warning flags for the Obamites, saying the move "to the center" could spell trouble.

"Watering down that brand is the political equivalent of New Coke. Call it Obama Zero."

Obama's repositioning to the center is politics as usual and is often advised as the best way to win a general election. Huffington's view is that such moves have made past Dem nominees Gore and Kerry appear less than stalwart and cost them the election. She fears the same fate for Obama.

It is a story line worth watching. Here in NM, it appears that among the congressional contenders a successful Obama candidacy would be most important to ABQ hopeful Martin Heinrich. The former city councilor could use some lengthy Obama coattails to ride if he is to overcome Republican Darren White.

It's the slow summer season that's bringing on some of the the second-guessing of Obama because McCain is going through the same thing. And here's a thoughtful rebuttal to Arianna's column.

Meanwhile, blog reader Fred Sisneros thinks another recent strategic move by Obama may impact the congressional races here.

Obama opting out of publicly financing his campaign could play a part in New Mexico races. I still think the Republican candidates in ABQ and the southern district have the advantage, but the Obama "50 state strategy" will play a part. His voter registration drives will be different than ACORN's. This guy means to win and he just might have coattails.

One thing we are not hearing much about at this stage is the impact of race on the NM prez election. Will race play an important role among east side Anglos? What of the talk of resistance toward Obama in the Spanish northern counties? Early polls are entertaining, but the answers to these questions will have to wait until the fall when the public is fully engaged.

HANG ON TIGHT

Dem US Senate nominee Tom Udall and northern US House hopeful Ben Ray Lujan, Jr. can be expected to hold tightly to each other as they head into the fall campaign. They will today in Santa Fe by appearing at the opening of a new Santa Fe office for the state Democratic Party at 730 St. Michael's Drive. Udall needs Hispanic support and Lujan could use Udall's muscle with Anglos in the district who did not warm to him during the primary. Still, Lujan, who is a solid frontrunner in his race, is key. The pressure is on him to energize northern Hispanics to help himself, Udall and Obama in an area where Dems need big numbers.

IT WAS A GOOD JOB

You never know who you'll run into on the plane. NM lobbyist Scott Scanland passes this one along:

I'm sitting on a Southwest jet yesterday when former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor gets on the flight and sits in the row behind us. When the flight lands, I help her take her bag down from the overhead storage. After this, I thank her for her service. She politely accepts my thanks and leans in to me and says: "It was a pretty good job.

BOB'S BULLET TRAIN

Another top NM lobbyist, former State Senator Bob McBride, writes in about the "bullet train" proposed by then-Governor Toney Anaya in the 80's and which we blogged about recently. Bob swears the following is true:

Not to diminish Toney Anaya's proposal for a Santa Fe to Albuquerque train, but the true visionary was Odis Echols. In the early 70's as a state senator from Curry county he introduced legislation to build a train. I know, because I co-signed the bill. It failed. It was going to be called Santa Fe -Albuquerque Rapid Transit or "SFART."

No, we don't make it up.

HANGIN' WITH LITTLE JOE--PART III

A lot of political veterans wanted to help us solve the mystery of what Las Cruces hotel we were at in 1976 when we were hanging with US Senator Joe Montoya. He was campaigning for re-election and we were traveling with him and legendary AP correspondent Bill Feather whose birthday (his 48th, not 50th) we celebrated in Montoya's room with beverages appropriate to the era. We recalled it was the Hilton, but that wasn't built until '86. Politicos who were on the circuit in those days seem to have nailed it down. Here's the take from one who requested anonymity.

If it was 1976 in Las Cruces a lot of Dems and hangers-on would gather at Buddy Ritter's Holiday Inn. It was pretty new and probably the classiest Holiday Inn around. The place had a nice adobe feel to it and stiff Margaritas...Another good D watering hole was My Brother's Place downtown, but it didn't have a hotel nearby except the old Amador that had been turned into a bank by then..The Rs pretty much drank in private except on Lincoln's birthday.

Gotta luv that line about the R's only coming out on Lincoln's Birthday. Of course, in those days in Las Cruces they were even more outnumbered than today. Maybe they felt safer indoors. As for Buddy Ritter, he now owns the famous Double Eagle restaurant in Old Mesilla.

The Big Wheel turns and the parade moves on, but the footprints of Montoya, Feather and the like are seen and remembered in the never-ending book of La Politica.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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