Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's Over: Behind The Scenes As Wilson Concedes To Pearce, Plus: Election Leftovers; Tasty Political Tidbits From The Races That Made Some Memories 

Pearce & Udall
Bleary eyed staffers for US Reps Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson hooked up in a 6 a.m. election morning-after phone call to arrange one of the more painful phone calls Heather Wilson would ever have to place--a concession to Steve Pearce who beat her out the night before to secure the GOP US Senate nomination and who will now face Democrat Tom Udall in November. Insiders report Wilson reached Pearce at the Denver International Airport at 7:30 a.m. as he prepared to fly back to work in Washington. Wilson told Pearce she would be endorsing Pearce at a news conference at an 8 a.m. news conference and offered her help for the fall campaign. Later Wednesday, insiders confirm, Senator Domenici, who had endorsed Wilson, reached Pearce by phone and offered his congratulations and also offered his support. With those calls, Pearce effectively assumed the leadership of the NM Republican Party, but for how long remains an open question. If he beats Udall, it will be for a long time. If not, his reign will be brief.

Only hours after Pearce had delivered the death-blow to Wilson's 10 year old political career, his lieutenants, well-practiced in the fine art of political power playing, began moving to consolidate power. They set their sights on that GOP National Committeeman post that will be decided June 14th at a state GOP convention. The leading contender for the relatively low-key post is attorney Pat Rogers, a leader of the Domenici-Wilson wing of the GOP. Talk circulated that former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman, who ran second to Ed Tinsley Tuesday night in the race for the southern GOP congressional nod, might just make a fine candidate for the Pearceans. No word from Newman on whether he is interested in challenging Rogers, but with Pearce the US Senate nominee, the top R on the '08 ballot, he can argue that he has the right to a party rowing in his direction. Will Rogers be challenged? Stay tuned.


Wilson stoically threw in the towel at that news conference at the press room of the ABQ airport before boarding a flight to D.C. She was flanked by her husband Jay and 11 year daughter Caitlin. Wilson did nothing to harm her Republican credentials and her shot at a post in a McCain administration or with a Republican oriented lobbying firm. She pledged down-the-line support for Pearce and seemed sincere in doing so. But the very human pressures of the political life were on display.

Heather's defeat was softened somewhat by sympathetic Republicans in D.C. who floated her name as a possibility for the vice-presidential slot with John McCain. The nice thing about being mentioned for Veep is it doesn't cost anyone anything. As far as an elective future in NM politics for Wilson, never say never, but for the foreseeable future do say never.


The Alligators were on the beat Election Night, looking for clues for what's to come. They pointed out that while ABQ Dem congressional candidate Martin Heinrich easily carried Bernalillo County in securing the nomination, they noted that he came in third in rural Torrance County, pointing out a potential problem the former city councilor may have in attracting conservative Democrats against Republican rival Darren White. Michelle Lujan Grisham carried Torrance with 37.3% of the vote. Rebecca Vigil-Giron took second with
28.7%. Heinrich came in third with 25.3%

Even though White flew by challenger Joe Carraro and took 82% of the primary vote, the Gators pointed out that Carraro and others dissatisfied with White and the current leadership of the state GOP could still cause him trouble. Will White reach out to them? Or head to the bunker?


Ben Ray Lujan will decompress from the long campaign by going camping. He probably won't be bothered that his chief rival for the northern Dem congressional nomination, Don Wiviott, never did call to offer his congratulations to the 35 year old son of NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, but it will be noted by the political insiders. What really has Lujan's camp upset are automatic phone calls that sent into the district anonymously on Election Day that again brought up the gay issue. Lujan has denied rumors about his lifestyle. The issue had no apparent impact on the results in which Lujan trounced Wiviott by over 15 points, despite Wiviott spending nearly $1.4 million in personal money. Don't look for Don to have the welcome mat out for him in the NM Democratic Party for a long, long time. Or as long as Ben Lujan Sr. is breathing.


They told you on the Election Day blog that turnout would be 28% for primary 2008. When they toted up the numbers the turnout among registered Democrats and Republicans was...drum roll, please....28%! They also get kudos for betting that 33% of NM R's would vote. The final number is around 31%. They said Dem turnout would be 25% and it was--you guessed it--25%. OK, they have their problems calling some of the races sometimes, but these Alligators
are worth feeding.


I sat down with KRQE-TV the Day After and helped set the table for the November election. It seemed semi-lucid after only a few hours sleep.


Young Bill McCamley isn't worried about politics today. "I need a job. I don't want to go hungry," the 30 year old told me from Las Cruces Wednesday. The Dona Ana County Commissioner turned in an impressive performance against oilman Harry Teague who beat McCamley 53% to 47% for the southern Dem congressional nod.. McCamley, who has a masters degree from Harvard, might want to call on Governor Big Bill or Light Guv Denish for some job help. They both endorsed winner Teague but praised McCamley when doing so. Praise is nice, but it doesn't put food on the table.

County Clerk Counting
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver had a pretty good primary election night. She released the absentee vote before 8 p.m., the first time in years that has happened. And she had most of the votes counted by 11 p.m., another rare event. If she can replicate the feat in the big November election, will we be on our way to reversing the Election Night counting curse that has plagued the state's largest county since the 1980's? Or do we need to sacrifice something on an altar to do the trick?

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