Monday, June 02, 2008

Final Hours On Campaign Trail For Pearce & Wilson, Plus: Key Races Across State Updated, And: Our KANW 89.1 FM Election Special Today at 5 P.M. 

In one of those wonderfully weird New Mexico moments, the campaign trail led Steve Pearce into the heart of liberalism Sunday, as the very conservative Hobbs congressman shook hands with patrons at the legendary Frontier Restaurant directly across from the University of New Mexico. Pearce could probably count on his toes the number of Republicans hanging out there, but it made for a good photo op for the TV stations now constantly trailing Pearce and Heather Wilson as they battle for the GOP US Senate nomination. The Frontier is owned by Republicans, so maybe Pearce picked up a couple of votes after all.

It is the foundation of modern American liberalism--the Social Security program--that is giving front-running Pearce heartburn in the final hours of Primary '08. Heather has been hammering him in TV ads and in TV debates over the less than reassuring statements he has made about the venerable program. He has not come back with reassuring answers. It has hurt him among seniors and stalled his movement in the North, according to late polling. Retiring Senator Domenici's endorsement has also given Wilson a mild boost.

The best that the 60 year old Pearce could come with on Social Security was a rebuttal ad that said Wilson was distorting his record, but tellingly he does not rip apart the specifics of her charges. He appears to be able to weather this storm in a GOP primary--his numbers in the South Sunday were still off the charts--but in the fall election, they could cause one mighty big pothole to open up. When they tell you party primaries don't cause lasting damage, always take a second look.


Watching Wilson on the late Sunday news making phone calls to targeted R voters and knocking on doors in the ABQ NE Heights reminds you of how she got the job done two years ago when she beat Patricia Madrid by less than 1,000 votes. She has a tougher job this time, given that it is a statewide race, but talking to people who are very likely to vote for you is never a waste of time.


SurveyUSA hit with an Election Eve poll Monday afernoon showing Pearce holding a one point lead over Wilson--48% to 47& with 2% saying "other" even though no one else is on the ballot. Three percent were undecided. Other polling shows Pearce with a larger lead, probably because they see a more conservative electorate turnng out on Tuesday.


He’s 35, the son of famous NM House Speaker Ben Lujan and a one-term Public Regulation Commissioner. Ben Ray Lujan just doesn't have the established political identity that would chase away Don Wiviott with certainty. That's causing some consternation in his camp, but the young Lujan worked the Spanish North feverishly over the weekend as he battled wealthy Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott for the Dem nod for the northern congressional seat.

Late polling has Lujan ahead by a handful. The pros predict a light turnout and believe that should work to Lujan's benefit. They say older Hispanic Dems are reliable voters and will vote for Lujan big. The problem for Lujan has been the $1.4 million that Wiviott has thrown at this thing. His negative ads have been like a kid who pulls on a cat's tail as it tries to make a run for it. Also, Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya is polling in the mid to high single digits, taking critical Hispanic support away from Lujan. There are three other candidates splitting some of the pie.

Lujan was headed for easy street when this campaign started, but a seat in the United States Congress is rarely served up on a silver platter. If Lujan prevails tomorrow, as is likely, the Wiviott challenge may have helped forge a stronger leader.


Former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman appears to have surged into second place in the intense battle for the Southern GOP congressional nomination, but restaurant chain owner Ed Tinsley is still your frontrunner. Rancher Aubrey Dunn has flatlined and Earl Greer and Craig Sowards bring up the rear. Newman has had a million bucks put into this race on his behalf by the National Association of Realtors. He came with a bevy of endorsements out of Eddy and other SE counties over the weekend that probably helped move his numbers. Still, Tinsley commands Dona Ana and is running strong in the oil counties. Newman has to keep moving every hour until the polls open to have a chance.


The blog readers were hitting send on the e-mail as news circulated late Friday that Senator Pete Domenici had endorsed Heather Wilson for the GOP Senate nomination. Here's a sample:

Once again we are seeing desperation from Domenici and (chief of staff) Steve Bell to make sure that Heather wins...We all remember Heather's last election, in 2006, when Bell and Domenici inappropriately called then U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to inquire about "corruption matters" just so they could use that information to help guarantee another razor thin victory for Heather. Now here we are again at another 11th hour and Domenici is desperate yet again... Another desperate act to help his protege...Sad ending for such a long and otherwise notable career

Fred Sisneros adds his two cents worth:

I just can't get the image out of my head of a child visiting their elderly parent at a nursing home trying to get a signature cutting another sibling out of the will. I have to believe the battle for the state GOP is now on. The GOPer's outside of Bernallillo have felt the party has put the interest of the state's largest county first. The fight started last year and this should escalate it.


She did not have money to put up expensive TV ads, so ABQ Dem congressional hopeful has produced ads for her Web site. In one of them, she speaks mainly in Spanish, the first we have seen that in this campaign. It connects.


When southern GOP congressional candidate Ed Tinsley blogged in about the horse featured in one of his TV commercials he gave a colorful description of life on his Lincoln County ranch, which brought some advice for the wannabe congressman from an astute reader:

Ed Tinsley’s quote, “Nothing like being on him when the thunder rolls, clouds come in, and rain hits in the trees and on the rocks. About the closest I can get to heaven on earth."
Sitting on top of a horse during a lightning storm might be bringing Mr. Tinsley closer to the REAL heaven that he is aware.


Bill Richardson's endorsement of Ben Ray Lujan in the northern Dem congressional primary is not unprecedented for a governor, but he may be the only Guv who has ever done it. A politico reminds us it wasn't Bill's first swim in the primary endorsement pond:

Richardson did endorse Richard Romero in his Dem primary in 2004 for the ABQ congressional seat. He hosted a fundraiser for him in December, 2003 at and put out a letter in support that was circulated at the pre-primary convention. Granted, that race was not as contested as this one, though in the end Miles Nelson got over 40% of the vote against


Here is Sunday Washington Post coverage of all of NM's Senate and congressional action.

Sometimes a few words are better than many. Take this stinging letter to the editor of the Roswell Daily Record from Kay McMillan, wife of the late Colin McMillan, a prominent rancher and GOP politico whose name has been dragged into the fierce GOP state Senate primary featuring Sen. "Lightning" Rod Adair and challenger Rory McMinn. Writes Kay:

"My late husband, Colin McMillan, was a staunch Republican who never endorsed anyone in a primary contest. I assure you, past or present, dead or alive, Colin would never endorse (GOP State Senator) Rod Adair."

In Roswell the fighting between Adair and challenger Rory McMinn and State Rep. Dan Foley and his challenger, Dennis Kintigh, has gotten so rough, we wouldn't be surprised to see Old west style posters of these guys saying, "Wanted: Dead or Alive."


Roswell oilman Mark Murphy has been the leader of the reform wing of the Chaves County GOP, working for several years to oust Foley and Adair. With oil at $130 a barrel, he and his family have plowed over $340,000 into the effort this time. Foley, whose mug shot for his arrest last year at his son's basketball game, is now airing on statewide TV, says he doesn't think Murphy will succeed: "I believe the people will see through this and agree with me that the Republican Party is not for sale." Foley told us.

But Murphy is all in and polling shows Foley is on the ropes and Adair is teetering, too. One or both could go down Election Night. Here is the Roswell Record from Sunday with a statement from Murphy on his latest sparring with Foley. Folks, this one is personal.


And just why are you seeing these Roswell state legislative races on your TV screen when you don't even live in the Roswell area? Well, it seems many of the folks in the Adair-Foley legislative districts get their TV off of satellite dishes. Roswell network affiliates KBIM and KOBR are not on the bird, so to reach those voters Kintigh and McMinn bought the expensive ABQ airtime. The ads are emotional. We might even see ABQ voters wanting in on the action and asking to vote in the races, having no idea that the contests are not here.


ABQ District Court Judge Elizabeth Whitefield has an unusual worry. Even though her opponent in the Dem primary--Metro Court Judge Frank Sedillo--has dropped out of the race and endorsed Whitefield, his name will still be on the Tuesday ballot. These judge races are really low-key and many voters may not be aware that Sedillo hs already cashed out. Whitefield is urging Dems to vote for her and ignore Sedillo's name. But if Sedillo were somehow to win, he would be the nominee. And you thought you had political problems...


If you are just getting around to thinking about voting, or are just curious about some of the races on the primary ballot, here's the ABQ Journal voter guide which has all the stories they have written on all the races and more.


We'll take to the radio airwaves of KANW 89.1 FM at 5 p.m. today for our Election Eve Special where we'll cover late breaking developments and have some predictions and analysis on the key races of this primary. I'll be joined by top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland, ABQ GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga, former NM Dem Chair John Wertheim, Dem strategist Heather Brewer and journalist Trip Jennings. This should be a fun-filled hour so make plans to join us.

Our Election Night coverage on KANW starts at 6:30 p.m on 89.1 FM ABQ?Santa Fe. There is a live stream of the program at the station's Web site. It's our 20th year of coverage there and this will be one of the more exciting nights ever because of all the congressional action. Hope you can make us part of your Election Night party.

Election coverage on public radio KANW is made possible by grants from Ladera Golf, Serrano and Sons--Construction and Bill Campbell Agency--Realtors.

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